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740 Politics, Ideology, and Discourse

bad things, and by de-emphasizing Our bad things


and their good things. Such a general strategy may be
implemented at all levels of discourse. Thus, in examples from a debate on asylum seekers in British parliament we see that there are many ways ideologies
may be expressed, for instance in the actor descriptions, fallacies, disclaimers, metaphors, comparisons,
euphemisms, hyperboles, and so on.
See also: Context, Communicative; Counterfactuals; Critical Discourse Analysis; Distributed Cognition and Communication;
Evidentiality
in
Grammar;
Irony;
Parliamentary Discourses; Pragmatic Presupposition;
Taboo, Euphemism, and Political Correctness.

Bibliography
Abercrombie N, Hill S & Turner B S (1980). The dominant
ideology thesis. London Boston: G. Allen & Unwin.
Ball T & Dagger R (1999). Political ideologies and the
democratic ideal. New York: Longman.
Billig M (1982). Ideology and social psychology. Oxford:
Basil Blackwell.
Billig M (1988). Ideological dilemmas: a social psychology of everyday thinking. London: Sage Publications.
Billig M (1991). Ideology and opinions: studies in rhetorical
psychology. London: Sage Publications.
Bourdieu P & Eagleton T (1994). Doxa and common life:
an interview. In Zizek S (ed.) Mapping ideology.
London: Verso. 265277.
Chilton P A (1995). Security metaphors. Cold war discourse
from containment to common house. New York: Lang.
Chilton P A (2004). Analysing political discourse: theory
and practice. London: Routledge.
Chilton P A & Scha ffner C (eds.) (2002). Politics as text
and talk: analytic approaches to political discourse. John
Benjamins: Amsterdam.
Duranti A & Goodwin C (eds.) (1992). Rethinking
context: language as an interactive phenomenon.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Eagleton T (1991). Ideology. An introduction. London:
Verso.
Eatwell R (ed.) (1999). Contemporary political ideologies.
New York: Pinter.
Fairclough N (1989). Language and power. London:
Longman.
Fairclough N (1995). Critical discourse analysis. The
critical study of language. London: Longman.
Fowler R (1991). Language in the news: discourse and
ideology in the British press. London and New York:
Routledge.

Fowler R, Hodge B, Kress G & Trew T (1979). Language


and control. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Freeden M (1996). Ideologies and political theory.
A conceptual approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Goodin R E & Klingemann H D (eds.) (1996). A new
handbook of political science. New York: Oxford
University Press.
Gramsci A (1971). Prison notebooks. New York:
International Publishers.
Gumperz J J (1982). Language and social identity.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hodge B & Kress G R (1993). Language as ideology.
London: Routledge.
Larran J (1979). The concept of ideology. London:
Hutchinson.
Leach R (2002). Political ideology in Britain. New York:
Palgrave.
Pecheux M (1982). Language, semantics, and ideology.
New York: St. Martins Press.
Potter J (1996). Representing reality: discourse, rhetoric
and social construction. London: Sage.
Seliger M (1976). Ideology and politics. London: Allen &
Unwin.
Van Dijk T A (1998). Ideology: a multidisciplinary
approach. London: Sage.
Van Dijk T A (1999). Context models in discourse processing. In van Oostendorp, Herre & Goldman S R (eds.)
The construction of mental representations during
reading. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
123148.
Van Dijk T A (2001). Discourse, ideology and context.
Folia Linguistica 35(12), 1140.
Van Dijk T A (2003). Text and context of parliamentary
debates. In Bayley P (ed.) Cross-cultural perspectives
on parliamentary discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
339372.
Wilson J (1990). Politically speaking. Oxford: Blackwell.
Wodak R (ed.) (1989). Language, power, and ideology studies in political discourse. Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Co.
Wodak R & Menz F (eds.) (1990). Sprache in der Politik
Politik in der Sprache. Analysen zum o ffentlichen
Sprachgebrauch (Language in politicspolitics in language. Analyses of public language use.). Klagenfurt:
Drava.
Wodak R & Meyer M (eds.) (2001). Methods of critical
discourse analysis. London: Sage.
Wodak R & Van Dijk T A (eds.) (2000). Racism at the top.
Parliamentary discourses on ethnic issues in six European
countries. Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag.
Zizek S (1994). Mapping ideology. London: Verso.

Polotsky, Hans (Hayyim) Jakob (19051991) 741

Polotsky, Hans (Hayyim) Jakob (19051991)


P Swiggers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven,
Belgium
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Hans Jakob Polotsky was born on September 13,


1905 in Zu rich, but spent his childhood in Berlin.
As a schoolboy he taught himself Egyptian. He studied Semitic and (what then was called) Hamitic languages in Go ttingen and Berlin. In 1929 he received
his doctoral degree (in Go ttingen), and embarked
upon a university career. He first was a collaborator
at the Go ttingen institute for the critical edition of
the Septuagint, specializing in the study of Biblical
Coptic and Manichaean religion. In 1934 he emigrated
to Palestine and became professor of Semitic languages
and Egyptology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
where he contributed, together with Haiim B. Rose n,
to the development of the Jerusalem structuralist
school of linguistics. After a long and fruitful career
as a university teacher, Polotsky died on August 10,
1991 in Jerusalem.
Although a specialist in Semitic languages; Egyptian and Coptic, Polotsky took a strong interest in
general linguistics and was a close observer of the
developments in European and American linguistics.
A polyglot at home in various modern European,
Semitic, and Ural-Altaic languages, he was also an
excellent philologist who worked on dozens of extinct
languages or language varieties. He was a follower
of linguistic structuralism, and applied the techniques and methods of structuralist phonology and
morphology to the study of Coptic and Egyptian.
Moreover, early in his career, Polotsky elaborated a
functional syntax (1944), which in several respects
antedates the functional sentence perspective of the
Prague school: he used a theme-rheme model, applying it to the relationship between form and content
of a message. His insights into sentence structure in
Egyptian, Coptic, and various Semitic languages (especially modern Syriac and modern Ethiopian dialects) were applied by a number of his students to
Indo-European languages, to Modern Hebrew, and
also to those languages on which Polotsky published
(he also left an impressive collection of unpublished
materials).
Polotskys approach is basically a synchronictypological one: he gives prominence to the functional
study of means and strategies of formal expression and

brings out patterns in the morphosyntactic organization of various languages. But he never dissociated
synchrony and diachrony, and he used the results of
comparative linguistics, dialectological research, and
historical grammar in constant interaction with his
synchronic and functional approach. Because of its
focus on languages not commonly considered in structuralist and generativist work, Polotskys work is,
unfortunately, mostly ignored by general linguists outside Israel (where in 1965 he received the Israel Prize
for his contribution to linguistic studies); the easiest
access to it is through the Collected papers (1971).
See also: Ancient Egyptian and Coptic; Hebrew, Israeli;
Semitic Languages; Structuralism; Syriac.

Bibliography
Hopkins S (1990). [1992]. H. J. Polotsky (19051991).
Rassegna di Studi Etiopici 34, 115125.
Osing J (1993). Hans Jakob Polotsky: 13. September
190510. August 1991. Zeitschrift fu r a gyptische
Sprache und Altertumskunde 120(1), iiiv.
Polotsky H J (19311933). Zur koptischen Lautlehre.
Zeitschrift fu r a gyptische Sprache 67, 7477; 69,
125129.
Polotsky H J (1938). E tudes de grammaire gourague . Bulletin de la Socie te de Linguistique de Paris 39, 137175.
Polotsky H J (1944). E tudes de syntaxe copte. Le Caire:
Socie te darche ologie copte.
Polotsky H J (1961). Studies in Modern Syriac. Journal of
Semitic Studies 6, 132.
Polotsky H J (1965). Egyptian tenses. Jerusalem: Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
Polotsky H J (1971). Collected papers. Jerusalem: Magnes.
Polotsky H J (1979). Verbs with two objects in Modern
Syriac (Urmi). Israel Oriental Studies 9, 204227.
Polotsky H J (19871991). Grundlagen des koptischen
Satzbaus (2 vols). Atlanta (Georgia): Scholars Press.
Ray J D (ed.) (1987). Lingua sapientissima: A seminar in
honour of H. J. Polotsky organised by the Fitzwilliam
Museum, Cambridge and the Faculty of Oriental Studies
in 1984. Cambridge: Faculty of Oriental Studies.
Rose n H B (ed.) (1964). Studies in Egyptology and linguistics
in honour of H. J. Polotsky. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration
Society.
Shisha-Halevy A (1992). In memoriam Hans Jakob
Polotsky. Orientalia 61, 208213.
Young D W (ed.) (1981). Studies presented to Hans Jakob
Polotsky. East Gloucester, MA: Pirtle & Polson.

742 Polysemy and Homonymy

Polysemy and Homonymy


A Koskela and M L Murphy, University of Sussex,
Brighton, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Polysemy and homonymy both involve the association of a particular linguistic form with multiple
meanings, thus giving rise to lexical ambiguity.
Polysemy is rooted in a variety of semantic-pragmatic processes or relations through which meanings
of words extend or shift so that a single lexical item (a
polyseme) has several distinct senses. For example,
language is polysemous in that it can be used to
refer to the human linguistic capacity (Language
evolved gradually) or to a particular grammar and
lexis (Learn a new language!). The most clear-cut
cases of polysemy (versus homonymy) involve systematic (or regular) polysemy (Apresjan, 1974), in
which the relation between the senses is predictable
in that any word of a particular semantic class potentially has the same variety of meanings. For example,
words for openable coverings of apertures in built
structures (She rested against the door/gate/window)
are also used to refer to the aperture itself (Go
through the door/gate/window). In non-systematic
polysemy, the words two senses are semantically
related, but are not part of a larger pattern, as for
arm of government versus human arm. Within the
literature, theoretical considerations often lead
authors to use polysemy to refer only to either systematic or non-systematic polysemy, and so the term
must be approached with caution.
Homonyms, in contrast, are distinct lexemes that
happen to share the same form. They arise either
accidentally through phonological change or lexical
borrowing, or through some semantic or morphological drift such that a previously polysemous form is no
longer perceived as being the same word in all its
senses. Tattoo1 an ink drawing in the skin and tattoo2 a military drum signal calling soldiers back to
their quarters provide a clear example of homonymy,
in that the two words derive respectively from Polynesian ta-tau and Dutch taptoe turn off the tap
(which was also used idiomatically to mean to
stop). The formal identity of homonyms can involve
both the phonological and the written form, as for
tattoo. Homophones need only be pronounced the
same, as in tail and tale, and homographs share written form, but not necessarily phonological form, as in
wind /wInd/ and wind /waInd/. Homographs that are
not homophones are also called heteronyms.
Polysemy and homonymy are generally differentiated in terms of whether the meanings are related

or not: while polysemous lexical items involve a number of related meanings, homonyms, as accidentally
similar words, do not have any semantic relation to
each other. However, as discussed below, a clear distinction between polysemous and homonymous items
remains difficult to draw. Nevertheless, the need
to distinguish between them remains. For lexicographers, the distinction generally determines how many
entries a dictionary has homonyms are treated as
multiple entries, but all of a polysemes senses are
treated in one entry. For semanticists wishing to
discover constraints on or processes resulting in
polysemy, weeding out the homonymous cases is necessary. For those wishing to model the mental representation of lexical knowledge, the issue of semantic
(un)relatedness is similarly important.
Another definitional issue concerns the distinction
between polysemy and vagueness, in which a lexical
item has only one general sense. (Some authors refer
to this as monosemy.) This raises the question of how
different two usages of the same form need to be to
count as distinct polysemous senses rather than different instantiations of a single underlying sense. For
example, the word cousin can refer to either a male or
a female, but most speakers (and linguists) would not
view cousin as having distinct male cousin and female cousin senses. Instead, we regard it as vague
with respect to gender. A number of different methodologies and criteria have been used to draw the line
between polysemy and vagueness, but these are not
uncontroversial. The distinction is also influenced by
theoretical assumptions about the nature of lexical
meaning; thus, demarcation of senses is one of the
more controversial issues in lexical semantics.

Evidence Used in Differentiating


Homonyms and Polysemes
The kinds of evidence used for differentiating polysemous and homonymous items can be roughly divided
into two types: evidence regarding the relatedness of
the meanings involved and evidence regarding any
formal (morphosyntactic or phonological) differences
in the linguistic form that correspond to the distinct
senses.
The key principle for distinguishing polysemes and
homonyms involves the relatedness of the meanings
associated with the linguistic form: unrelated meanings indicate homonymy whereas related meanings
imply polysemy. Relatedness can either be determined diachronically by establishing if the senses
have a common historical origin, or synchronically
and neither method is unproblematic. The simplest

Polysemy and Homonymy 743

criterion for synchronic relatedness is whether or not


the senses participate in the same semantic field (see
Lexical Fields). On this criterion, metonymically
related senses such as bench place where the judge
sits and the judge are polysemous, but metaphorically related senses such as foot body part and bed
part are not. Nevertheless, the two senses of foot here
are usually considered to represent polysemy, as the
more usual methodology for determining synchronic
relatedness involves individuals intuitions. Intuitive
judgements of semantic relations are, however, always subjective, and it may be questioned whether
peoples metalinguistic reasoning about meaning relations can reflect how lexical meaning is mentally
represented. Historical evidence has in its favor the
fact that etymological relations are often less equivocal; but many approaches consider such evidence irrelevant to questions of mental representation, as
etymological information is not part of most speakers competence. Furthermore, diachronic and synchronic evidence can be contradictory. In some
cases, despite the fact that the different senses are
etymologically related, native speakers today perceive
no semantic relation. Such is the case with the classic
homonym bank; the two senses financial institution
and a raised ridge of ground can be traced back to
the same proto-Germanic origin. There are also
instances where at least some speakers perceive a
synchronic relation in words with no shared history.
For example, ear hearing organ and ear (of corn) are
perceived by some speakers to be metaphorically
related, analogous to other body-part metaphors,
but in fact they have separate sources.
Formal criteria are also used to distinguish homonymy and polysemy. One criterion, adopted widely in
lexicography, is that polysemous senses should belong
to the same grammatical category. Thus, noun and
verb senses of words such as waltz, derived through
zero derivation (conversion), might be considered
distinct lexical items, and therefore homonyms. Similarly, the potential for different plural forms for the
meanings of mouse, small rodent and a computer
input device (mice and mouses, respectively), could
indicate that the distinct senses reflect distinct homonymous lexemes. However, the formal criterion
often conflicts with the semantic criteria. One can
easily see the semantic connection between waltz
(n.) and waltz (v.) as part of a pattern of regular
polysemy (where any noun denoting a type of dance
can also be a verb meaning to perform that dance),
and most people appreciate the metaphorical connection between the two types of mouse. But for
some approaches to the lexicon, any morphological
differences associated with different senses of the
form force its treatment as a homonym, resulting in

etymologically related homonyms. The contradictions


of the formal, diachronic, and synchronic semantic
criteria have led some to abandon strict distinctions
between homonyms, polysemes, and vague lexemes.
Tuggy (1993) proposes a continuum between these
categories, which relies on variable strengths of
association among meanings and forms.

Theoretical Approaches to Polysemy and


Homonymy
While we have so far attempted a theory-neutral definition and description of polysemy and homonymy,
variability in the interpretation of these terms is often
at the heart of the contrasts among theoretical
approaches. The approach is often determined by the
range of phenomena considered (and vice versa) for
instance some models define polysemy as equivalent
to systematic polysemy and treat irregular cases as
tantamount to homonymy.
In early generative theory, attempts were made to
treat polysemy as the product of synchronic derivational processes. The lexical representation of a
word would include a meaning, and further meanings
could be derived via lexical rules that operate on some
semantic class of words (e.g., McCawley, 1968;
Leech, 1974). Leech (1974) notes that such rules are
limited in their productivity, and can be seen as motivating but not predicting new senses of words. The
assumption of a basic meaning from which additional
meanings are derived continues as a theme in some
pragmatic approaches to polysemy. For instance,
Nunberg (1978) posits that words have lexical meanings but that they can be used to refer in various ways
based on a number of conventional referring functions that allow language users to effect different
sense extensions. Thus, a referring function that
relates producers with their products predicts the
interpretation of Chomsky (primary reference is to a
person) as the works of Chomsky in Chomsky is
hard to read. Other theorists have taken the position
that word meaning is radically underspecified in the
lexicon (e.g., Bierwisch, 1983) or extremely general
in sense (Ruhl, 1989) and that semantic or pragmatic
factors allow for more specific interpretations in context. Such an approach is Blutners (1998) Lexical
Pragmatics, where lexical meaning is highly underspecified. Meanings are enriched by a pragmatic
mechanism that specifies which particular concepts
the word refers to in a particular use based on contextual factors. Such approaches erase the distinction
between polysemy and vagueness.
The generative lexicon (Pustejovsky, 1995) is an
approach to lexical semantics that emerges from
computational linguistic work. Sense disambiguation

744 Polysemy and Homonymy

presents a key challenge for natural language processing and drives much current polysemy research. In
this theory, systematic polysemy is generated by lexical rules of composition that operate on semantic
components specified in the representation of lexical
items (and so it could be seen as a development from
the early generative approaches). The main concern is
to account for regular types of meaning alternation
(such as the aperture-covering alternation of door and
adjectival meaning variation, as in fast car, fast typist,
fast decision, fast road, etc.) in a manner that avoids
the problems of simple enumeration of word senses in
the lexicon and explicates the systematic nature of
meaning variation in relation to the syntagmatic linguistic environment. The meaning variation of fast,
for example, is accounted for by treating the adjective
as an event predicate which modifies an event that is
specified as the head nouns function as part of its
compositional lexical representation.
Another significant strand of polysemy research
proceeds within Cognitive Linguistic approaches
(see Cognitive Linguistics; Cognitive Semantics).
The general aim is to study the kinds of conceptual
processes that motivate the multiple meanings of
linguistic forms and how these meanings may be
grounded in human experience. As it is argued that
lexical categories exhibit the same kind of prototype
structure as other conceptual categories, the relations
of polysemous senses are usually modeled in terms of
radial, family resemblance categories. In these polysemy networks, the senses are typically either directly
or indirectly related to a prototypical sense through
such meaning extensions processes as conceptual
metaphor and metonymy and image-schema transformations (Lakoff, 1987). As Cognitive Linguists also
assume that all of linguistic structure, including grammar, is meaningful, some work within this approach
has extended the applicability of the notions of polysemy and homonymy beyond lexical semantics to
grammatical categories and constructions (Goldberg,
1995) (see Construction Grammar). While most
other approaches dismiss homonymy as accidental
and uninteresting, the relevance of diachronic

processes to meaning representation in Cognitive


Linguistics means that making hard and fast distinctions between homonymy, polysemy, and vagueness is
not necessary (Tuggy, 1993; Geeraerts, 1993).
Polysemy and homonymy thus represent two
central notions in lexical semantics, inspiring active
research interest.

See also: Cognitive Linguistics; Cognitive Semantics; Construction Grammar; Lexical Fields; Lexical Semantics:
Overview.

Bibliography
Apresjan J (1974). Regular polysemy. Linguistics 142,
533.
Bierwisch M (1983). Semantische und konzeptuelle Repra sentation lexikalischer Einheiten. In Ruzicka R &
Motsch W (eds.) Untersuchungen zur Semantik. Berlin:
Akademie-Verlag.
Blutner R (1998). Lexical pragmatics. Journal of Semantics
15, 115162.
Geeraerts D (1993). Vaguenesss puzzles, polysemys vagaries. Cognitive Linguistics 4, 223272.
Goldberg A E (1995). Constructions. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
Lakoff G (1987). Women, fire, and dangerous things.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Leech G (1974). Semantics. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
McCawley J D (1968). The role of semantics in a grammar.
In Bach E & Harms R T (eds.) Universals in linguistic
theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. 124169.
Nunberg G (1978). The pragmatics of reference. Bloomington,
IN: Indiana University Linguistics Club.
Petho G (2001). What is polysemy? In Nemeth E & Bibok
K (eds.) Pragmatics and the flexibility of word meaning.
Amsterdam: Elsevier. 175224.
Pustejovsky J (1995). The generative lexicon. Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press.
Ravin Y & Leacock C (eds.) (2000). Polysemy. Oxford:
OUP.
Ruhl C (1989). On monosemy. Albany: SUNY Press.
Tuggy D (1993). Ambiguity, polysemy and vagueness.
Cognitive Linguistics 4, 273290.

Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik 745

Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik


W J de Reuse, University of North Texas, Denton,
TX, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

An Overview of the Central Siberian


Yupik Word
Central Siberian Yupik (CSY) is a representative language of the Yupik branch of the Eskimo-Aleut family.
It is spoken by over 1000 people on St. Lawrence
Island, Alaska and Chukotka, Russian Far East (de
Reuse, 1994; Nagai, 2004). Like all Eskimo languages,
CSY is, from a typological point of view, extreme
because of its high level of polysynthesis, and the fact
that it is almost exclusively suffixing (Woodbury, 2002:
98). There is no compounding, and CSY has only one
prefix, occurring as a lexicalized element on demonstratives. The structure of the Eskimo noun or verb
word can be schematized as follows:
(1) Base postbasesn ending encliticm

The base is the lexical core of the word; it can


be followed by a number n of postbases. The value
of n is between 0 and a theoretically infinite number,
but n > 6 is quite rare. Postbases are traditionally
considered derivational suffixes and combine with
the base to form a new base. The obligatory ending
is inflectional, marking case, number, and possession
for nouns, marking mood, person, and number of
subject for intransitive verbs, and marking mood,
person and number of subject and person and number
of object for transitive verbs. Although there are
about 1200 inflectional endings for ordinary verbs
(Woodbury, 2002: 81), it is not the richness of inflection that characterizes CSY as a polysynthetic language, since its inflection is not very different from
that found in Latin or Ancient Greek. Enclitics, of
which there are 12, can follow the ending. They are
syntactic particles that form a phonological word
with the immediately preceding word. The value of
m is between 0 and 4. Example (2) is an analysis of a
CSY word that illustrates the structure in Schematic
(1) (abbreviations: V, verb; PST, past tense; FRUSTR, frustrative (but . . ., in vain); INFER, inferential evidential
(often translatable as it turns out); INDIC, indicative;
3S.3S, third-person subject acting on third-person
object):
(2) neghyaghtughyugumayaghpetaallu
negh-yaghtugh- -yug-umaeat
go.to.V
want.to.V
PST
-yagh- -pete-aa
=llu
FRUSTR
INFER
INDIC.3S.3S
also
Also, it turns out she/he wanted to go eat it, but. . ..

In Example (2), only the base negh- and the inflectional -aa, are obligatory. Any or all of the other
suffixes, which are postbases, can be left out. The
element llu is an enclitic.

Polysynthesis Illustrated by CSY


Postbases
Since the postbases account for the polysynthesis of
CSY, we will focus on their characteristics. A first
characteristic is the full productivity of most (but
not all) postbases. The five postbases of Example (2)
are fully productive. So, picking between one and five
postbases from the five in Example (2), it is possible
to generate 30 different words. For semantic reasons,
it happens to be the case that the order of elements
has to be -yaghtugh-yug-uma-yagh-pete-. There are
no clear morphological position classes to be set up in
CSY. A second characteristic of some CSY postbases is
recursion, as illustrated by Example (3):
(3) iitghesqesaghiisqaa
itegh-sqe-yaghtughcome.in ask.to.V
go.to.V
-sqe-aa
ask.to.V INDIC.3S.3S
Hei asked himj to go ask himk to come in.

The postbase sqe- ask to.V is used recursively.


A third characteristic of some CSY postbases is that
they can display variable order with respect to each
other without resulting differences in meaning. This is
illustrated with Examples (4) and (5):
(4) aananiitkaa
aane-nanigh-utkego.out
cease.to.V V.on.account.of
-aa
INDIC.3S.3S
He ceased going out on account of it.
(5) aanutkenanighaa
aane-utke-nanighgo.out
V.on.account.of
cease.to.V
-aa
INDIC.3S.3S
He ceased going out on account of it.

Even though generally in CSY the rightmost postbase


has scope over what is on the left, that principle does
not seem to be working in Examples (4) and (5).
These two sentences mean exactly the same thing
and were uttered within three lines of each other in
a story (de Reuse, 1994: 93). A fourth characteristic
of postbases is that they can interact with the syntax,
and attach to elements functioning as independent
syntactic atoms. This is illustrated in Example (6)

746 Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik


Table 1 Criteria of inflection, derivation, productive postbases, and syntax
Feature

Inflection

(Nonproductive)
derivation

Productive
postbases

Syntax

[1] Productive?
[2] Recursion possible?
[3] Necessarily concatenative?
[4] Variable order of elements possible in some instances?
[5] Interaction with syntax possible?
[6] Lexical category changing possible?

Yes
No
No
No
Yes
No

No
No
No
No
No
Yes

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes

(abbreviations: ABS, absolutive; 2S.S, second-person


singular possessor, singular possessum; INTRANS,
intransitive; PARTL, participial mood (often nominalizing in Eskimo); ABL, ablative; N, noun; 3S, thirdperson singular subject):
(6) Atan
aangelghiimeng qikmilguuq.
ata-n
aange- -lghiifather ABS.2S.S
be.big INTRANS.PARTL
-meng qikmigh- -lgu-uq
ABL.S
dog
have.N
INDIC.3S
Your father has a big dog.

As Sadock (1980, 1991) demonstrated on the basis of


parallel structures in Greenlandic Eskimo, the nounincorporating postbase -lgu have.N acts like
a morphologically intransitive verb, and like other
intransitive verbs, it can occur with a direct object in
an oblique case (here the ABL). Since postbases cannot
attach to inflected words, the ABL case marking
cannot occur on qikmigh- dog, but it does show up
in the stranded modifier aangelghiimeng big. This is
expected, since CSY modifiers agree in case with their
heads. At the syntactic level then, aangelghiimeng
qikmigh- big dog forms a phrasal constituent to
which the -lgu- is attached.
A fifth characteristic of postbases is that they
not only derive verbs from verbs (as in Examples
(2)(5)), or nouns from nouns (shown in Example
(7)), but also verbs from nouns, as in Example (6),
and nouns from verbs, as in Example (7). This is, of
course, expected behavior for derivational morphology. Example (7) contains the verb yughagh- to
pray, changing to a noun yughaghvig- church,
changing to another noun yughaghvigllag- big
church, and changing back to a verb yughaghvigllange- to acquire a big church (abbreviation: 3P,
third-person plural subject).
(7) yughaghvigllangyugtut
yughagh-vig-ghllag- -ngepray
place.to.V big.N
acquire.N
-yug-tut
want. to.V INDIC.3P
They want to acquire a big church.

As noted earlier, not all postbases are productive.


The postbase -vig- place to.V, is an example of a
nonproductive postbase, since it lexicalized with
pray to mean church, and not the completely
predictable place to pray, i.e., any place to pray.
The postbases that follow -vig- are completely
productive. There are over 400 productive postbases in CSY, and several hundred nonproductive
ones.

Productive Postbases: Neither Derivation


nor Inflection?
The survey of the characteristics of productive postbases just provided casts some doubt on their status
as elements of derivational morphology. Certainly,
the nonproductive postbases behave like elements of
derivational morphology. Regarding productive postbases, consider Table 1, a chart of criteria distinguishing inflection, (nonproductive) derivation, productive
postbases, and syntax. The productive postbases,
even though bound, have six features in common
with syntax; they also have one (feature [6]) in common with derivation, and two (features [1] and [5])
in common with inflection. In the following explanations, the term elements will be used instead of
productive postbase or words, in order to have a
term covering both morphology and syntax. The criteria of the six features are intended to show that
elements such as productive postbases are syntaxlike. Presumably the criteria in Table 1 are not independent of each other, but it is not yet clear which has
to be derived from which.
Productivity (feature [1]) means that there are no
idiosyncratic restrictions on the use of the element.
Thus, its presence is conditioned by semantic plausibility only, and not by selectional restrictions. Certainly in CSY, and for many polysynthetic languages,
the elements are so numerous that it is very unlikely
that native speakers would have the ability to memorize the existing sequences and store them in the
lexicon (Fortescue, 1980; de Reuse, 1994). Inflection,

Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik 747

of course, is also completely productive, but only


within a paradigm. The claim is that derivational
morphology is never fully productive. Since some
of what is traditionally called derivational morphology is productive, we are, in effect, changing the
definition of derivational morphology, so that fully
productive elements of derivational morphology are
no longer part of it.
Recursion (feature [2]) means that the same element can potentially occur more than once within
the same word (which is the case with productive
postbases), or within the same sentence (which is
the case in syntax), its presence again conditioned
by semantic plausibility.
Concatenative (feature [3]) means that the elements
are going to be in some linear order. Neither nonconcatenative morphology, such as suppletion, nor Semitic style morpheme internal change is expected to
exist instead of postbases. Similarly, nonconcatenative syntax does not exist.
Variable order (feature [4]) means that, in some
cases, the order of elements can be free. Just as in
free word order in syntax, some productive postbases can be freely ordered, most likely constrained
by pragmatic factors only. This is impossible in
derivation.
Interaction with syntax (feature [5]) has to do with
relationships between the productive postbases and
elements of syntax. As is well known (Anderson,
1982), inflection interacts with syntax, as in agreement or case marking. Derivation does not interact
with syntax, but productive postbases do interact
with syntax. And obviously, syntax interacts with
itself.
Lexical category changing (feature [6]) means that
the element can change the lexical category in the
morphology. Derivational morphology can do this,
but inflectional morphology does not. Here, postbases behave like derivational morphology. In a parallel fashion, in the syntax, the addition of an element
can change the phrasal category. For example, very
good is an adjective phrase, but very good quality is a
noun phrase.
These characteristics of Eskimo productive postbases lead us to suggest the existence of a branch
of morphology, which is neither inflection, nor
derivation, that we will call productive noninflectional concatenation, or PNC (PNC was called
internal syntax in de Reuse (1992)). The term
concatenation, rather than affixation, is used to
highlight the fact that PNC can be affixal (as
in Eskimo) or compounding. It is proposed that
the existence of large amounts of PNC elements is
a valid way of characterizing polysynthetic languages.

Consequences for a Productive


Noninflectional Concatenation View of
Polysynthesis for Morphological Theory
The proposal that polysynthesis can be characterized
in terms of PNC has consequences for morphological
theory. If it is assumed, for example, that productivity
is definitional of PNC, it is necessary to account for
productive affixation in nonpolysynthetic languages.
Indeed, some of the affixes traditionally called derivational in Indo-European languages are completely
productive, and among these productive ones, some
are recursive as well. Examples of productive and
recursive prefixes in English are anti-, as in antiabortion, antiantiabortion, etc., or, more marginally, re-,
as in rewrite, rerewrite, etc. The diminutive suffix of
Dutch, -je, is completely productive. The diminutive
of Dutch contrasts starkly with the diminutive suffixes of French (-et, -ette), and the diminutive suffixes
of English (-ette, -let, -kin, -ling), which are unproductive. As a result, anti-, re-, and the Dutch diminutive
must be considered to be PNC elements, rather than
derivational ones. The difference with polysynthetic
languages is a quantitative one. European languages
have just a few elements of PNC. Mildly polysynthetic
languages (such as found in the Arawakan and Siouan
families) have more than a dozen of such elements,
solidly polysynthetic languages (such as found in the
Caddoan and Wakashan families) have over 100 of
such elements, and extreme polysynthetic languages
(i.e., the Eskimo branch of Eskimo-Aleut) have several
hundreds of such elements.
Within polysynthetic languages, it will also be
necessary to distinguish between their nonproductive
morphology (derivation or compounding) and PNC.
According to Mithun and Gorbetts research (1999)
on noun incorporation in Iroquoian, speakers can
often tell which combinations are being used and
which ones are not being used. If that is so, some of
the noun-incorporating morphology of Iroquoian is
not productive, and should not count for considering
the language polysynthetic. Similarly, a distinction
must be made, in Eskimo, between nonproductive
postbases, such as -vig- place to.V, as in Example
(7), which do not count for considering the language
polysynthetic, and the elements of PNC, i.e., the
productive postbases, for which the question of
which combinations are used or not used cannot be
reasonably answered.
See also: Arabic as an Introflecting Language; Chinese as
an Isolating Language; Finnish as an Agglutinating Language; Italian as a Fusional Language; Russian Federation: Language Situation; United States of America:
Language Situation.

748 Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik

Bibliography
Anderson S R (1982). Wheres morphology? Linguistic
Inquiry 13, 571612.
de Reuse W J (1992). The role of internal syntax in the
historical morphology of Eskimo. In Aronoff M (ed.)
Morphology now. Albany: State University of New
York Press. 163178.
de Reuse W J (1994). Siberian Yupik Eskimo. The language
and its contacts with Chukchi. Salt Lake City: University
of Utah Press.
Fortescue M (1980). Affix-ordering in West Greenlandic
derivational processes. International Journal of
American Linguistics 46, 259278.
Mithun M & Gorbett G (1999). The effect of noun incorporation on argument structure. In Mereu L (ed.)

Boundaries of morphology and syntax. Amsterdam:


John Benjamins. 4971.
Nagai K (2004). A morphological study of St. Lawrence
Island Yupik: three topics on referentiality. Ph.D. diss.
(linguistics), Kyoto University.
Sadock J M (1980). Noun incorporation in Greenlandic:
a case of syntactic word-formation. Language 57,
300319.
Sadock J M (1991). Autolexical syntax. A theory of parallel
grammatical representations. Chicago & London: The
University of Chicago Press.
Woodbury A C (2002). The word in Cupik. In Dixon
R M W & Aikhenvald A Y (eds.) Word. A crosslinguistic typology. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. 7999.

Pomoan Languages
S McLendon, City University of New York, NY, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The seven Pomoan languages are or were spoken


north of San Francisco, in the many verdant valleys
of the Coast Range mountains. (See Figure 1.) Especially densely populated were the large valleys
through which the Russian River runs and those
around Clear Lake, as were the foothills of the
Coast Range in the south around Santa Rosa and
Sebastopol.

Names
There was no single Pomo tribe or language, although maps and authors frequently so indicate.
Each of the seven languages was spoken by residents
of at least one, and usually several, politically independent towns, of which some 75 are known. By
2004, these have become amalgamated into 19 distinct federally recognized tribes. Speakers of the seven
languages did not have a single name for themselves
or for the family of languages as a whole. The name
Pomo, which now has that function, was first used
to refer to this family by Stephen Powers (1877: 5,
146), and has become increasingly used in the 20th
century. It derives from two distinct but similar
sounding Northern Pomo terms, one the name of an
earlier single town (See McLendon and Oswalt, 1978
for details).
English names for the individual languages were
developed by Samuel A. Barrett (1908), modeled on
native systems of referring to neighboring languages.

The language spoken around the modern town of


Ukiah, in the center of Pomoan territory, Barrett
called Central Pomo. To the north was Northern
Pomo; to the northeast on the edge of the Sacramento
Valley, Northeastern Pomo. To the east, on the western portion of Clear Lake, was Eastern Pomo, and
southeast at East Lake and Lower Lake, Southeastern
Pomo. To the south of Central Pomo were Southern
Pomo, and Southwestern Pomo. This last has a native
name, kahsa.ya, anglicized as Kashaya, which is now
preferred.
Unfortunately Barrett, in the style of the times,
referred to these seven languages as dialects, even
though they are distinctly different, mutually unintelligible, languages. This has led to all seven languages
commonly being thought to be mere variations of a
single language. In fact, speakers of one language
could not understand speakers of any of the others
without a considerable period of learning, and all but
one of these languages were each spoken in several
dialects.

Internal Relations
Classifications of the interrelationships of these languages have been proposed by Barrett (1908: 100),
Alfred Kroeber (1925: 227), Abraham Halpern
(1964: 90), and Robert L. Oswalt (1964: 416).
Halpern was the first phonetically competent linguist
to collect data on all seven languages. He proposed
two slightly different classifications based on sound
shifts that he identified but never published. Oswalt
(1964: 413427) based his classification on a comparison of the 100-word lexicostatistical basic word

748 Polysynthetic Language: Central Siberian Yupik

Bibliography
Anderson S R (1982). Wheres morphology? Linguistic
Inquiry 13, 571612.
de Reuse W J (1992). The role of internal syntax in the
historical morphology of Eskimo. In Aronoff M (ed.)
Morphology now. Albany: State University of New
York Press. 163178.
de Reuse W J (1994). Siberian Yupik Eskimo. The language
and its contacts with Chukchi. Salt Lake City: University
of Utah Press.
Fortescue M (1980). Affix-ordering in West Greenlandic
derivational processes. International Journal of
American Linguistics 46, 259278.
Mithun M & Gorbett G (1999). The effect of noun incorporation on argument structure. In Mereu L (ed.)

Boundaries of morphology and syntax. Amsterdam:


John Benjamins. 4971.
Nagai K (2004). A morphological study of St. Lawrence
Island Yupik: three topics on referentiality. Ph.D. diss.
(linguistics), Kyoto University.
Sadock J M (1980). Noun incorporation in Greenlandic:
a case of syntactic word-formation. Language 57,
300319.
Sadock J M (1991). Autolexical syntax. A theory of parallel
grammatical representations. Chicago & London: The
University of Chicago Press.
Woodbury A C (2002). The word in Cupik. In Dixon
R M W & Aikhenvald A Y (eds.) Word. A crosslinguistic typology. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. 7999.

Pomoan Languages
S McLendon, City University of New York, NY, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The seven Pomoan languages are or were spoken


north of San Francisco, in the many verdant valleys
of the Coast Range mountains. (See Figure 1.) Especially densely populated were the large valleys
through which the Russian River runs and those
around Clear Lake, as were the foothills of the
Coast Range in the south around Santa Rosa and
Sebastopol.

Names
There was no single Pomo tribe or language, although maps and authors frequently so indicate.
Each of the seven languages was spoken by residents
of at least one, and usually several, politically independent towns, of which some 75 are known. By
2004, these have become amalgamated into 19 distinct federally recognized tribes. Speakers of the seven
languages did not have a single name for themselves
or for the family of languages as a whole. The name
Pomo, which now has that function, was first used
to refer to this family by Stephen Powers (1877: 5,
146), and has become increasingly used in the 20th
century. It derives from two distinct but similar
sounding Northern Pomo terms, one the name of an
earlier single town (See McLendon and Oswalt, 1978
for details).
English names for the individual languages were
developed by Samuel A. Barrett (1908), modeled on
native systems of referring to neighboring languages.

The language spoken around the modern town of


Ukiah, in the center of Pomoan territory, Barrett
called Central Pomo. To the north was Northern
Pomo; to the northeast on the edge of the Sacramento
Valley, Northeastern Pomo. To the east, on the western portion of Clear Lake, was Eastern Pomo, and
southeast at East Lake and Lower Lake, Southeastern
Pomo. To the south of Central Pomo were Southern
Pomo, and Southwestern Pomo. This last has a native
name, kahsa.ya, anglicized as Kashaya, which is now
preferred.
Unfortunately Barrett, in the style of the times,
referred to these seven languages as dialects, even
though they are distinctly different, mutually unintelligible, languages. This has led to all seven languages
commonly being thought to be mere variations of a
single language. In fact, speakers of one language
could not understand speakers of any of the others
without a considerable period of learning, and all but
one of these languages were each spoken in several
dialects.

Internal Relations
Classifications of the interrelationships of these languages have been proposed by Barrett (1908: 100),
Alfred Kroeber (1925: 227), Abraham Halpern
(1964: 90), and Robert L. Oswalt (1964: 416).
Halpern was the first phonetically competent linguist
to collect data on all seven languages. He proposed
two slightly different classifications based on sound
shifts that he identified but never published. Oswalt
(1964: 413427) based his classification on a comparison of the 100-word lexicostatistical basic word

Pomoan Languages 749

Figure 1 Probable territories of the seven Pomoan languages at the end of the 18th century around the time of first contact with
Europeans. Adapted from Figure 2, p. 276 of the Handbook of North American Indians, California-8 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian
Institution, 1978).

list in each of the seven languages. Halpern and


Oswalt agree in identifying Eastern Pomo and Southeastern Pomo as the most divergent, and Southern
Pomo and Kashaya as closely related. They differ in
the position they assign the geographically isolated
Northeastern Pomo, and their conception of the relationship between the three languages spoken in wide
contiguous bands from the Russian River to the
Pacific: Northern Pomo, Central Pomo, and Southern
Pomo. (See Figures 1 and 2.)
Significant intermarriage between neighboring
towns and the tradition of sending children to be
raised by grandparents for extended periods resulted
in more than one language being spoken in each
town, and children having an easy familiarity with
more than one language (McLendon, 1978b). This

may have had a leveling effect on the languages in


contact along the Russian River.

State of Descriptive Knowledge


As of 2004, modern linguistic fieldwork has been
carried out on all seven languages, with grammars
and articles published on Eastern Pomo (McLendon,
1975, 1978a, 1979, 1982, 1996, 2003), Southeastern
Pomo (Moshinsky, 1974), and Northern Pomo
(OConnor, 1984, 1990, 1992). For Kashaya, an extensive unpublished grammar (Oswalt, 1961) exists,
as well as articles (Oswalt, 1983, 1986, 1998). Extended field work has been carried out on Central
Pomo, with various aspects of the language described in articles. (Mithun, 1988, 1990, 1993,

750 Pomoan Languages

Figure 2 Proposed interrelationships between the seven Pomoan languages. A, B, Two alternative classifications proposed by
A,M, Halpern, 1964. C, Classification proposed by R. Oswalt, 1964. After Figure 1, p. 275 of the Handbook of North American Indians,
California-8 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1978).

1998). Extensive fieldwork has been carried out on


Southern Pomo by Halpern and Oswalt, very little of
which has been published (Oswalt, 1977 provides a
text with a grammatical sketch). This is unfortunate,
since a clear understanding of Southern Pomo is especially important for the reconstruction of Proto
Pomo. The least amount of work, all unpublished,
has been done on Northeastern Pomo, which ceased
to be spoken in the middle of the 20th century. Ironically, the seven Pomoan languages began to be adequately studied and described only in the mid20th
century, just as speakers were switching to English
as their primary means of communication. In 2004,
this process of replacement is virtually complete,

although several contemporary tribes have now


initiated language revitalization efforts.

Basic Characteristics of the Pomoan


Languages
Phonology

The seven Pomoan languages have far more consonants than English. Unaspirated, aspirated, and
glottalized (or ejective) stops contrast at labial
(p, ph, p), dental (t, th, t), alveolar (t. , .t h, .t) , palatal
(c, ch, c), velar (k, kh, k), and postvelar (q, qh, q)
places of articulation, in Kashaya, Central Pomo and

Pomoan Languages 751

Eastern Pomo (which, however lacks qh). Compare,


for example, the contrasting Eastern Pomo set: ko y
sore, kho l worm, k. o y in/with the stomach, qo y
swan, qoy nape of neck.
Southeastern Pomo contrasts voiceless stops with
glottalized ones at the same places of articulation;
voiceless aspirated stops have become fricatives in
Southeastern Pomo. Compare Southeastern Pomo
mfet. : Eastern Pomo nuphe r : Central Pomo mphe :
Southern Pomo nuphe : Kashaya Pomo nuphe  :
Northeastern Pomo fe [-ka] skunk. Southern Pomo,
Northern Pomo and Northeastern Pomo have the
same contrasts at the same places of articulation (except Northeastern Pomo has f instead of ph), but lack
the velar/post-velar distinction (Northern Pomo has
no c h). Southern Pomo, Northern Pomo and Eastern
Pomo have an additional pre-palatal affricate series
(c, ch, c) that pattern like stops (Northern Pomo lacks
ch). Kashaya and Central Pomo have only c. All
seven languages have a glottal stop.
All seven languages distinguish two voiced stops: b
and alveolar d, and the fricatives: s, s , and h. Northeastern Pomo and Southeastern Pomo add a rare f,
from earlier Proto Pomo *ph. Eastern Pomo and
Southeastern Pomo have a velar fricative x, Southeastern Pomo adds a postvelar fricative x. . The sonorants/resonants are m, n, l, y, w with a rare r in Eastern
Pomo. Eastern Pomo alone contrasts voiced m, n, l, y,
w with voiceless M, N, L, Y, W. Compare, for
example, lal month: Lal goose. All languages
have a five-vowel system with two degrees of length.
Grammar

The seven Pomoan languages are agglutinative, with


extensive, complex morphologies and striking semantic specialization. The basic morphological unit is the
stem, with verbal or nonverbal function specified by
inflectional suffixes and/or syntactic relations. The
verb is morphologically the most complex and syntactically the most important category, being the only
obligatory member of an independent clause. Verbs
are composed of a stem plus a varying number of
classes of suffixes that add both lexical and grammatical meaning. These suffixes specify aspects, modes,
plurality, locality, reciprocity, source of information
(evidentials) and various types of syntactic relations,
including the continuation or change in the referent
and case roles of the agent and patient of a preceding
clause (often called switch-reference). The verb is
last in its clause, although under certain conditions,
arguments can be postposed following it.
Kashaya and Eastern Pomo have well-developed
sets of what have been called instrumental prefixes
with the shape CV, where V is i, a, or u. They indicate

the undergoer/patient of the action, and type or manner of action, as well as the instrument. These combine with roots to form stems. In Northern Pomo,
Central Pomo, Southern Pomo, and Southeastern
Pomo, vowels in initial syllables are elided or assimilated, collapsing what are historically several prefixes
into a single consonant, obscuring the system.
The Pomoan languages are stative-active languages, most of an unusual type that can be called
fluid stative-active. That is, verbs can appear with an
argument in either the agentive or the patient case,
depending on the speakers perception of the degree
of control the protagonist had in the action. Thus in
Eastern Pomo, one can say:
ha
cexel-k-a
1SG.AG slip/slide-PUNCTUAL-DIRECT
Im sliding (as on a sled or skis,
deliberately)

or:
wi
cexel-k-a
1SG.Pat slip/slide-PUNCTUAL-DIRECT
Im slipping (accidentally, as on a
banana peel, or patch of ice)

Clauses are combined to describe interrelated


sequences of events by affixing one of a number of
so-called switch-reference suffixes that indicate simultaneity, sequentiality, causality, or contingency
as well as the continuation or change of the protagonists involved and their case roles. Clauses are nominalized by affixing inflectional case marking at their
end.
All seven languages identify the sorts of evidence
on which an assertion is based, but they differ in the
number of distinctions made and the forms used to
make them. In Eastern Pomo, for example, suffixes
distinguish claims based on (a) direct sensory evidence, (b) someone elses reporting, (c) inferences
from circumstantial evidence, or (d) direct knowledge. Evidentials were especially elaborated in
Kashaya, Southern Pomo, and Central Pomo (see
McLendon, 2003 for details).
Among nonverb classes, kinship terms and pronouns always refer to human animates and are
inflected for several cases: agent, patient, possessive,
usually commitative, and in some languages, vocative.
Personal names existed, but were not used in address
or polite reference, an appropriate kin term being
preferred. When kin terms were not appropriate, a
small closed class of nouns referring to humans of
both sexes in various age grades (boy, girl, young
lady, young man, man, woman, old man, old
woman), usually having suppletive plural stems,
were used.

752 Pomoan Languages

Historical Relationships
Many cognates can be found between the seven languages, demonstrating clear sound correspondences.
These usually involve small shifts in sound: either
adjustments in place of articulation postvelars
becoming velars, for example, or in manner of articulation aspirated voiceless stops becoming fricatives.
Much more sweeping in their effects are the prosodically conditioned syntagmatic changes that largely
affect vowels in particular positions.
If one only looks at lexical comparisons, the languages seem extremely close. However, they show
considerable differences in grammatical structure.
When the same category exists, it is frequently
expressed by a totally different, not cognate, form in
the various languages. When languages have reflexes
of the same morpheme, that morpheme may well
behave in quite different ways or occur in different
relative positions (see McLendon, 1973 and Oswalt,
1976 for details).
See also: Active/Inactive Marking; Hokan Languages;
United States of America: Language Situation.

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Linguistics 59, 119136.
Mithun M (1998). Fluid aspects of negation in Central
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Moshinsky J (1974). A grammar of Southeastern Pomo.
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Oswalt R (1986). The evidential system of Kashaya. In
Chafe W & Nichols J (eds.) Evidentiality: the linguistic
coding of epistemology. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. 2945.
Oswalt R (1998). Three laryngeal increments of Kashaya.
In Hinton L & Munro P (eds.) American Indian

Ponca

See: Omaha-Ponca.

Ponka

See: Omaha-Ponca.

languages: description and theory. Berkeley: Universitiy


of California. 8794.
Powers S (1877). The tribes of California. Contribution to
North American Ethnology 3. Washington, DC: U.S.
Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Pop, Sever (19011961)


P Swiggers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven,
Belgium
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born on July 27, 1901, in Poiana Ilvei, Romania, Pop


studied Romance linguistics at the University of Cluj
(19191923), with S. Pus cariu, T. Capidan and N.
Dra ganu. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1925, while teaching in a business school, and received a scholarship in
order to study in Paris with A. Meillet, J. Vendryes,
M. Roques, A. Thomas, O. Bloch, and especially
J. Gillie ron at the E cole pratique des hautes e tudes.
Impressed by the latters teaching, Pop decided to
devote his career to dialect research. He acquainted
himself with dialects and dialect research in France,
Spain, and Italy, and also established contacts with
Portuguese scholars, before returning to his home
country.
From 1929 to 1941 he was lecturer, then professor
of dialectology in Cluj (19291939), Cerna uti (1939
1940), and Bucharest (19401941). This was a period
of intensive fieldwork, linguistic and ethnographic,
partly in collaboration with E. Petrovici, and under
the guidance of S. Pus cariu, within the frame of activities sponsored by the Museum of the Romanian
Language in Cluj. Pops research covered DacoRomanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and
Istro-Romanian; the results of his detailed inquiries

were systematized in the first two volumes (on


parts of the body and on family terms) of the Atlasul
lingvistic roma n (1938a, 1942a), and the corresponding first two volumes of the condensed and
reorganized version, Micul atlas lingvistic roma n
(1938b, 1942b).
During World War II Pop became Director of the
Romanian School in Rome, where he stayed until
1947. The changed political and religious climate in
his native country forced him to become a political
exile, and he accepted a visiting professorship (1948)
at the University of Leuven, where he became extraordinary professor of Romance linguistics and dialectology in 1953 and where he stayed until his untimely
death on February 17, 1961. In Leuven Pop published
his life work, La dialectologie, a very well-informed
and detailed overview of dialect research, in the Romance field and outside; he founded the Centre international de dialectologie ge ne rale (C.I.D.G.) and
created Orbis: Bulletin international de documentation linguistique, a journal for dialectology, general
linguistics, and linguistic bibliography. Pop published
useful bibliographical volumes on linguistic questionnaires and institutes of phonetics and phonographical
archives, and a volume on J. Gillie rons life, work,
and teaching. Shortly before his death he had the
honor of being the president of the first international
conference on general dialectology, held in Leuven
and Brussels (August 1960).

Pop, Sever (19011961) 753


universal grammar. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 267290.
Oswalt R (1986). The evidential system of Kashaya. In
Chafe W & Nichols J (eds.) Evidentiality: the linguistic
coding of epistemology. Norwood, NJ: Ablex. 2945.
Oswalt R (1998). Three laryngeal increments of Kashaya.
In Hinton L & Munro P (eds.) American Indian

Ponca

See: Omaha-Ponca.

Ponka

See: Omaha-Ponca.

languages: description and theory. Berkeley: Universitiy


of California. 8794.
Powers S (1877). The tribes of California. Contribution to
North American Ethnology 3. Washington, DC: U.S.
Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Pop, Sever (19011961)


P Swiggers, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven,
Belgium
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born on July 27, 1901, in Poiana Ilvei, Romania, Pop


studied Romance linguistics at the University of Cluj
(19191923), with S. Puscariu, T. Capidan and N.
Draganu. He obtained his Ph.D. in 1925, while teaching in a business school, and received a scholarship in
order to study in Paris with A. Meillet, J. Vendryes,
M. Roques, A. Thomas, O. Bloch, and especially
J. Gillieron at the Ecole pratique des hautes etudes.
Impressed by the latters teaching, Pop decided to
devote his career to dialect research. He acquainted
himself with dialects and dialect research in France,
Spain, and Italy, and also established contacts with
Portuguese scholars, before returning to his home
country.
From 1929 to 1941 he was lecturer, then professor
of dialectology in Cluj (19291939), Cernauti (1939
1940), and Bucharest (19401941). This was a period
of intensive fieldwork, linguistic and ethnographic,
partly in collaboration with E. Petrovici, and under
the guidance of S. Puscariu, within the frame of activities sponsored by the Museum of the Romanian
Language in Cluj. Pops research covered DacoRomanian, Aromanian, Megleno-Romanian, and
Istro-Romanian; the results of his detailed inquiries

were systematized in the first two volumes (on


parts of the body and on family terms) of the Atlasul
lingvistic roman (1938a, 1942a), and the corresponding first two volumes of the condensed and
reorganized version, Micul atlas lingvistic roman
(1938b, 1942b).
During World War II Pop became Director of the
Romanian School in Rome, where he stayed until
1947. The changed political and religious climate in
his native country forced him to become a political
exile, and he accepted a visiting professorship (1948)
at the University of Leuven, where he became extraordinary professor of Romance linguistics and dialectology in 1953 and where he stayed until his untimely
death on February 17, 1961. In Leuven Pop published
his life work, La dialectologie, a very well-informed
and detailed overview of dialect research, in the Romance field and outside; he founded the Centre international de dialectologie generale (C.I.D.G.) and
created Orbis: Bulletin international de documentation linguistique, a journal for dialectology, general
linguistics, and linguistic bibliography. Pop published
useful bibliographical volumes on linguistic questionnaires and institutes of phonetics and phonographical
archives, and a volume on J. Gillierons life, work,
and teaching. Shortly before his death he had the
honor of being the president of the first international
conference on general dialectology, held in Leuven
and Brussels (August 1960).

754 Pop, Sever (19011961)


See also: Dialect Atlases; Gillieron, Jules (18541926);
Meillit, Antoine (Paul Jules) (18661936); Romanian.

Bibliography
Dimitriu I G (1963). Sever Pop. Orbis 12, 584586.
Griera A (1961). Sever Pop. Boletn de Dialectologa
Espanola 36, 7172.
Heinimann S (1961). Sever Pop, 19011961. Vox Romanica 20, 101104.
Hommage a` la me moire de Sever Pop (1961). Orbis 10,
IXVI.
Pop A S (1980). Sever Pop: sa vie et moments de lhistorique
de lAtlas linguistique roumain. Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop R D (1956). Sever Pop: notice biographique et bibliographique. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1927). Buts et methodes des enquetes dialectales.
Paris: Gamber.
Pop S (1938a). Atlasul lingvistic roman I. Cluj: Muzeul
limbii roma ne. French adapt. (1962). Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop S (1938b). Micul atlas lingvistic roman I. Cluj: Muzeul
limbii romane.

Pop S (1942a). Atlasul lingvistic roman II. Sibiu: Muzeul


limbii romane.
Pop S (1942b). Micul atlas lingvistic roman II. Sibiu:
Muzeul limbii roma ne.
Pop S (1948). Grammaire roumaine. Bern: Francke.
Pop S (1950). La dialectologie: apercu historique et methodique denquetes linguistiques. Vol. I: Dialectologie
romane; Vol. II: Dialectologie non-romane. Louvain:
C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1955). Bibliographie des questionnaires linguistiques. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1966). Recueil posthume de linguistique et dialectologie. Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop S & Pop R D (1958). Premier repertoire des instituts et
des societes de linguistique du monde. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S & Pop R D (1959). Jules Gillieron: vie, enseignement,
ele`ves, uvres, souvenirs. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S & Pop R D (1960). Atlas linguistiques europeens.
Domaine roman. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Straka G (1961). Sever Pop y1961. Revue de Linguistique
romane 25, 212214.

Poppe, Nikolai Nikolaevich (18971991)


S A Romashko, Moscow, Russia
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born into a family of Russian Germans, N. Poppe


attended the German Protestant high school in St.
Petersburg/Petrograd and studied oriental languages
at Petrograd University. His teachers were the most
prominent Russian orientalists of the time: W. L.
Kotwicz, B. Ia. Vladimirtsov, A. N. Samoilovich, F. I.
Shcherbatsko. After having graduated in 1923,
Poppe worked at Petrograd (later Leningrad) University until 1941. During this time, he was also a research fellow at the Academy of Sciences of USSR (a
corresponding member of the Academy since 1932)
where he, since 1931, headed up the Mongolian
department in the Oriental Institute.
Poppes first publications were dedicated to Altaic
languages (the Yakut, Chuvash, and Tungus languages) and to comparative Altaic linguistics. But in
the second half of the 1920s, he abandoned comparative studies under pressure of the new theory of
language by N. J. Marr (which was, at this time, in
a dominate position in Soviet linguistics). His main
concern became the spoken Mongolian languages.
From 1926 to 1932 he undertook extensive fieldwork
in Mongolia and the Asiatic part of the Soviet Union
to investigate the languages and folklore of the

Mongolian people. The result of this work was


the first detailed practical description of spoken
Mongolian (Khalkha) (Poppe, 1931). After the study
of Buriat dialects Poppe published the first general
survey of this language (Poppe, 1938). Another
branch of his activity was the study of Mongolian
written tradition: he published inter alia a grammar
of written Mongolian (Poppe, 1937; the English
version is Poppe 1954) and a survey of Mongolian
texts in hPags-pa script of the 13th14th centuries
(Poppe, 1941; edited 1957 in English).
In 1942, during the German occupation of the
Northern Caucasus, where he and his family had
been evacuated to, Poppe went over to the German
side and changed as an ethnic German his citizenship. From 1943 to 1945 he worked at the Wannsee
Institute (Berlin) and other institutions subordinated
to the foreign department of the Nazi intelligence
service (SD-RSHA), which caused him serious problems in the first years after the war. In 1949 Poppe
arrived in the United States and obtained a position at
the University of Washington (Seattle), where he
remained until his retirement in 1968. Continuing
his work on Mongolian (see Poppe, 1951, 1970),
Poppe went back to his comparative analysis of Altaic
languages (Poppe, 1955, 1960, 1965). Developing the
ideas of G. J. Ramstedt, Poppe provided a detailed
view of the Altaic language family, including the

754 Pop, Sever (19011961)


See also: Dialect Atlases; Gillieron, Jules (18541926);
Meillit, Antoine (Paul Jules) (18661936); Romanian.

Bibliography
Dimitriu I G (1963). Sever Pop. Orbis 12, 584586.
Griera A (1961). Sever Pop. Boletn de Dialectologa
Espanola 36, 7172.
Heinimann S (1961). Sever Pop, 19011961. Vox Romanica 20, 101104.
Hommage a` la memoire de Sever Pop (1961). Orbis 10,
IXVI.
Pop A S (1980). Sever Pop: sa vie et moments de lhistorique
de lAtlas linguistique roumain. Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop R D (1956). Sever Pop: notice biographique et bibliographique. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1927). Buts et methodes des enquetes dialectales.
Paris: Gamber.
Pop S (1938a). Atlasul lingvistic roman I. Cluj: Muzeul
limbii romane. French adapt. (1962). Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop S (1938b). Micul atlas lingvistic roman I. Cluj: Muzeul
limbii romane.

Pop S (1942a). Atlasul lingvistic roman II. Sibiu: Muzeul


limbii romane.
Pop S (1942b). Micul atlas lingvistic roman II. Sibiu:
Muzeul limbii romane.
Pop S (1948). Grammaire roumaine. Bern: Francke.
Pop S (1950). La dialectologie: apercu historique et methodique denquetes linguistiques. Vol. I: Dialectologie
romane; Vol. II: Dialectologie non-romane. Louvain:
C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1955). Bibliographie des questionnaires linguistiques. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S (1966). Recueil posthume de linguistique et dialectologie. Gembloux: Duculot.
Pop S & Pop R D (1958). Premier repertoire des instituts et
des societes de linguistique du monde. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S & Pop R D (1959). Jules Gillieron: vie, enseignement,
ele`ves, uvres, souvenirs. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Pop S & Pop R D (1960). Atlas linguistiques europeens.
Domaine roman. Louvain: C.I.D.G.
Straka G (1961). Sever Pop y1961. Revue de Linguistique
romane 25, 212214.

Poppe, Nikolai Nikolaevich (18971991)


S A Romashko, Moscow, Russia
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born into a family of Russian Germans, N. Poppe


attended the German Protestant high school in St.
Petersburg/Petrograd and studied oriental languages
at Petrograd University. His teachers were the most
prominent Russian orientalists of the time: W. L.
Kotwicz, B. Ia. Vladimirtsov, A. N. Samoilovich, F. I.
Shcherbatsko. After having graduated in 1923,
Poppe worked at Petrograd (later Leningrad) University until 1941. During this time, he was also a research fellow at the Academy of Sciences of USSR (a
corresponding member of the Academy since 1932)
where he, since 1931, headed up the Mongolian
department in the Oriental Institute.
Poppes first publications were dedicated to Altaic
languages (the Yakut, Chuvash, and Tungus languages) and to comparative Altaic linguistics. But in
the second half of the 1920s, he abandoned comparative studies under pressure of the new theory of
language by N. J. Marr (which was, at this time, in
a dominate position in Soviet linguistics). His main
concern became the spoken Mongolian languages.
From 1926 to 1932 he undertook extensive fieldwork
in Mongolia and the Asiatic part of the Soviet Union
to investigate the languages and folklore of the

Mongolian people. The result of this work was


the first detailed practical description of spoken
Mongolian (Khalkha) (Poppe, 1931). After the study
of Buriat dialects Poppe published the first general
survey of this language (Poppe, 1938). Another
branch of his activity was the study of Mongolian
written tradition: he published inter alia a grammar
of written Mongolian (Poppe, 1937; the English
version is Poppe 1954) and a survey of Mongolian
texts in hPags-pa script of the 13th14th centuries
(Poppe, 1941; edited 1957 in English).
In 1942, during the German occupation of the
Northern Caucasus, where he and his family had
been evacuated to, Poppe went over to the German
side and changed as an ethnic German his citizenship. From 1943 to 1945 he worked at the Wannsee
Institute (Berlin) and other institutions subordinated
to the foreign department of the Nazi intelligence
service (SD-RSHA), which caused him serious problems in the first years after the war. In 1949 Poppe
arrived in the United States and obtained a position at
the University of Washington (Seattle), where he
remained until his retirement in 1968. Continuing
his work on Mongolian (see Poppe, 1951, 1970),
Poppe went back to his comparative analysis of Altaic
languages (Poppe, 1955, 1960, 1965). Developing the
ideas of G. J. Ramstedt, Poppe provided a detailed
view of the Altaic language family, including the

Popularizations 755

Korean branch (split at first from Common Altaic),


Turkic-Mongolian-Manchu-Tungus, which split into
Turkic (with Chuvash as a separate unit), and then
Mongolian and Manchu-Tungus. Poppe dedicated
the last decades of his life to the study and an edition
of Mongolian epic folklore (see Poppe, 1979).
See also: Altaic Languages; Marr, Mikolai Jakovlevich

(18641934); Mongolic Languages; Ramstedt, Gustaf


John (18731950).

Bibliography
Alpatov V M (1996). Nikolai Nicholas Poppe. Moscow:
Vostochnaia Literatura.
Cirtautas A M (1977). Nicholas Poppe: bibliography of
publications from 1924 to 1977. Seattle: Institute for
Comparative and Foreign Area Studies, University of
Washington.
Cirtautas A M (1989). Bibliography of Nicholas Poppe:
19771987. In Heissig W & Sagaster K (eds.) Gedanke
und Wirkung: Festschrift zum 90. Geburtstag von Nikolaus Poppe. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. xxvi.
Poppe N N (1931). Praktic eski uc ebnik mongolskogo
razgovornogo iazyka (xalxaskoe narechie). Leningrad:
Akademia Nauk.

Poppe N N (1937). Grammatika pismenno-mogolskogo


iazyka. Moscow & Leningrad: Akademia Nauk.
Poppe N N (1938). Grammatika buriat-mongolskogo iazyka.
Moscow & Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk.
Poppe N N (1941). Istoriia mongolsko pismennosti.
I: Kvadratnaia pismennost. Moscow & Leningrad:
Akademia Nauk.
Poppe N N (1951). Khalkha-mongolische Grammatik mit
Bibliographie, Sprachproben und Glossar. Wiesbaden:
Steiner.
Poppe N N (1954). Grammar of written Mongolian.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1955). Introduction to Mongolian Comparative Studies. Helsinki: Suomalais-ugrilainen seura.
Poppe N N (1960). Vergleichende Grammatik der
Altaischen Sprachen. T. 1: Vergleichende Lautlehre.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1965). Introduction to Altaic Linguistics.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1970). Mongolian Language Handbook.
Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Poppe N N (1979). The Heroic Epic of Khalkha Mongols.
Bloomington, IN: Publications of the Mongolia Society.
Poppe N N (1983). Reminiscences. Bellingham: Western
Washington University Press.

Popularizations
J Corbett, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The study of popularizations of specialist texts, mainly from the sciences, is an offshoot of genre analysis.
The attraction of popularizations is that they allow
cross-genre comparison of texts that discuss the same
topic for different readerships, usually specialists and
nonspecialists. The crossgenre comparison of specialist texts and popularizations also affords insights into
the social construction and discursive negotiation of
scientific facts. Hyland (2000: 104131) also considers relationships between expert and novice academic discourses, comparing research articles to
textbooks and paying particular attention to the
construction of authority in each genre.
Popularizations are characterized in opposition to
specialist journals and books produced by professionals mainly for peer-group readers. Bazerman
(1988) traced the historical development of specialists
writing in the sciences, arguing that the form of such
writing was originally conditioned by the requirement that readers should be able to replicate the
experiments described. Popularizations encompass

films, television documentaries and dramas, newspaper articles, and reports and features in magazines
like Scientific American and New Scientist, whose
readership includes nonspecialists as well as scientists
whose interests extend beyond their own discipline.
The shift in genre from specialist to popular text raises
issues of the interaction of the various participants
in the communicative events and in the linguistic
construction of the scientists and their activities.

Participants and Purposes


The participants in specialist publications and popularizations are typically the specialist, the specialist
discourse community, the journalist or another nonspecialist writer, and the nonspecialist readership.
Scientists produce specialist texts for the peer community, although many also revise their texts for a
more general readership. Alternatively, journalists act
as mediators between specialists and general readers.
The linguistic form of the specialist and popular texts
is shaped by the different relationship that the producers have with their target readers and the function
that the texts serve for writers and readers.

Popularizations 755

Korean branch (split at first from Common Altaic),


Turkic-Mongolian-Manchu-Tungus, which split into
Turkic (with Chuvash as a separate unit), and then
Mongolian and Manchu-Tungus. Poppe dedicated
the last decades of his life to the study and an edition
of Mongolian epic folklore (see Poppe, 1979).
See also: Altaic Languages; Marr, Mikolai Jakovlevich

(18641934); Mongolic Languages; Ramstedt, Gustaf


John (18731950).

Bibliography
Alpatov V M (1996). Nikolai Nicholas Poppe. Moscow:
Vostochnaia Literatura.
Cirtautas A M (1977). Nicholas Poppe: bibliography of
publications from 1924 to 1977. Seattle: Institute for
Comparative and Foreign Area Studies, University of
Washington.
Cirtautas A M (1989). Bibliography of Nicholas Poppe:
19771987. In Heissig W & Sagaster K (eds.) Gedanke
und Wirkung: Festschrift zum 90. Geburtstag von Nikolaus Poppe. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. xxvi.
Poppe N N (1931). Prakticeski ucebnik mongolskogo
razgovornogo iazyka (xalxaskoe narechie). Leningrad:
Akademia Nauk.

Poppe N N (1937). Grammatika pismenno-mogolskogo


iazyka. Moscow & Leningrad: Akademia Nauk.
Poppe N N (1938). Grammatika buriat-mongolskogo iazyka.
Moscow & Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk.
Poppe N N (1941). Istoriia mongolsko pismennosti.
I: Kvadratnaia pismennost. Moscow & Leningrad:
Akademia Nauk.
Poppe N N (1951). Khalkha-mongolische Grammatik mit
Bibliographie, Sprachproben und Glossar. Wiesbaden:
Steiner.
Poppe N N (1954). Grammar of written Mongolian.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1955). Introduction to Mongolian Comparative Studies. Helsinki: Suomalais-ugrilainen seura.
Poppe N N (1960). Vergleichende Grammatik der
Altaischen Sprachen. T. 1: Vergleichende Lautlehre.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1965). Introduction to Altaic Linguistics.
Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Poppe N N (1970). Mongolian Language Handbook.
Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
Poppe N N (1979). The Heroic Epic of Khalkha Mongols.
Bloomington, IN: Publications of the Mongolia Society.
Poppe N N (1983). Reminiscences. Bellingham: Western
Washington University Press.

Popularizations
J Corbett, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The study of popularizations of specialist texts, mainly from the sciences, is an offshoot of genre analysis.
The attraction of popularizations is that they allow
cross-genre comparison of texts that discuss the same
topic for different readerships, usually specialists and
nonspecialists. The crossgenre comparison of specialist texts and popularizations also affords insights into
the social construction and discursive negotiation of
scientific facts. Hyland (2000: 104131) also considers relationships between expert and novice academic discourses, comparing research articles to
textbooks and paying particular attention to the
construction of authority in each genre.
Popularizations are characterized in opposition to
specialist journals and books produced by professionals mainly for peer-group readers. Bazerman
(1988) traced the historical development of specialists
writing in the sciences, arguing that the form of such
writing was originally conditioned by the requirement that readers should be able to replicate the
experiments described. Popularizations encompass

films, television documentaries and dramas, newspaper articles, and reports and features in magazines
like Scientific American and New Scientist, whose
readership includes nonspecialists as well as scientists
whose interests extend beyond their own discipline.
The shift in genre from specialist to popular text raises
issues of the interaction of the various participants
in the communicative events and in the linguistic
construction of the scientists and their activities.

Participants and Purposes


The participants in specialist publications and popularizations are typically the specialist, the specialist
discourse community, the journalist or another nonspecialist writer, and the nonspecialist readership.
Scientists produce specialist texts for the peer community, although many also revise their texts for a
more general readership. Alternatively, journalists act
as mediators between specialists and general readers.
The linguistic form of the specialist and popular texts
is shaped by the different relationship that the producers have with their target readers and the function
that the texts serve for writers and readers.

756 Popularizations

Myers (1990) argues that the discourse of specialist


publications is organized so as to substantiate claims
to knowledge that will validate the specialists status
in the research community. In contrast, journalists
selection of specialist texts to popularize is governed
by the constraints of newsworthiness. Nelkin (1995)
observed that media coverage of science and technology is shaped by myth and social drama (p. 62).
Popularizations therefore focus on subjects such as
ancient and anticipated disasters, for example, the
mass extinction of species, or promised technological
solutions, such as the design of labor-saving robots.
Popularizations, whether written by journalists or
specialists, inform and entertain but also shape
public policy, for example by supporting investment
in or regulation of the specialist discipline.

Popularization as Process
The process of popularization, particularly by journalists, has been variously characterized. van Dijck
(1998: 910) describes the dominant view of popularization as diffusion: research findings by an elite
group of geniuses are simplified and inevitably distorted by journalists in order to enlighten ignorant
nonspecialists, some of whom might be resistant to
change particularly change that threatens established social norms and values. A typical example of
diffusion would be the press treatment and public
reception of the cloning of Dolly the sheep. Biotechnological innovation triggers popular accounts that
stimulate public debate on the ethics of cloning, a
debate that in turn informs political regulations and
access or nonaccess to further research funding. Diffusion is a linear process that assumes a division
between science and society, mediated by popularizations. However, more recent models see popularization as part of a nonlinear, dynamic process of
translation and negotiation, whereby scientists align
themselves with other social groups to contest and
redefine the public meanings of scientific discoveries.
This view is consistent with specialists own contribution to popularization and dissolves diffusions dichotomy between specialist and nonspecialist groups.
As van Dijck (1998: 10) observed:
Despite their powerful position on the discursive hierarchy, scientists have never had absolute authority over the
interpretation of knowledge, and thus had to look for
effective strategies to propel and defend a specific interested position [. . .]

Popularizations are therefore a forum in which specialists can attempt to form alliances and engage in negotiating the public meaning of specialist knowledge.

Narratives of Science and Nature


Popularization, then, involves the translation of research texts into more widely accessible discourses in
order to negotiate the public meaning of a specialist
discipline like physics, genetics, or biology. In his
discussion of biology texts, Myers (1990: 142) argued
that such acts of translation result in two distinct
narratives, specialist narratives of science and popular narratives of nature, which themselves assume
different conceptions of scientific activity. Narratives
of science, according to Myers, are linguistically
organized to support claims to knowledge; for example, their discourse structures tend toward problemsolution patterns rather than chronological events.
Their vocabulary and syntax emphasize the conceptual structure of the discipline by, for example, preferring impersonal constructions and nominalizations
that turn events into abstractions. Popular narratives
of nature, in contrast, take concrete phenomena
rather than scientific methodology as their subject.
They prefer chronological narratives to nonchronological problem-solution patterns, and their syntax
and vocabulary emphasize the externality of nature to
scientific practices (Myers, 1990: 142).
The outcomes of these different narrative strategies
can be briefly illustrated by comparing the title and
experimental procedures of one research article and
its popularization. A research article entitled The
paleoecological significance of an anachronistic ophiuroid community was written by Aronson and Sues
and published in a specialist volume discussing predation (Kerfoot and Sih, eds., 1987). In the same year,
one of the authors, Aronson, published a popular
account of this research in New Scientist under the
title A murder mystery from the Mesozoic. Both
articles question why an aquatic species called ophiuroids or brittlestars, once common on the ocean floor,
suddenly disappeared in the Mesozoic era, save for a
few, isolated, anachronistic communities.
The research article is typical of the narrative of
science. Its title embodies a knowledge claim that
anachronistic ophiuroid communities are significant
to palaeoecology and the discourse structure of the
article is so arranged to support the innovative combination of studies of the fossil record with presentday predation experiments. The focus of the article is
on validating the legitimacy of the research procedures; the outcome of the experiments (that a rise in
predation was the cause of the near-extinction of the
species) is almost a byproduct of the research methodology. In contrast, A murder mystery from the
Mesozoic promises and duly delivers a chronological
narrative that in this case alludes to a formulaic

Popularizations 757

literary genre: there is a murder (in this case of a


species of ophiuroid), clues (the fossil record and
experimental results), and a de nouement that reveals
the murderer (in this case, a predatory octopus).
In the specialist article, the vocabulary and syntax
emphasize scientific practices rather than nature; in
the popularization the reverse is true:
Specialist article:
In this chapter, we hope to demonstrate how general
ideas of predation may be used to interpret the structure
of an extant ophiuroid-dominated community in a Bahamian saltwater lake. Results from this living community
are then used to formulate testable hypotheses
concerning the structure of similar fossil assemblages.
Popularization:
Ecological studies tell us under what conditions brittlestar beds persist today. We can look at fossils to see how
and when the number of brittlestar beds changed in
geological time. By combining this information, we
gain an idea of how important mass extinctions and
predation were in the distant past. That is, we can begin
to work out what really happened to the suspensionfeeders after the Jurassic.

Both passages explain the purpose of the research. The nominal groups in the specialist article
are generally abstractions: ideas, structure, result,
hypotheses, and so on. The popularization also has
abstractions like ecological studies, conditions,
information, extinction, and predation, but it focuses on concrete phenomena too: brittlestar beds
and fossils. Crucially, the popularization glosses the
significance of combining palaeoecology and ecological studies: to work out what really happened to the
suspension feeders. Therefore whereas the specialist
article remains within the domain of inferences and
hypotheses, the popularization focuses on the natural
world what really happened.
The narratives of science and nature diverge in
other respects. One key difference is in the representation of the specialist. Nelkin (1995: 17) noted that
in popular esteem, Science appears to the activity of
lonely geniuses whose success reflects their combination of inspiration and dedication to their work. van
Dijck (1998: 18) discussed a variety of popular
stereotypes: obsessed maniacs, arrogant hermits or
unworldy virtuosos. When representing themselves
in popularizations, scientists are certainly active participants in the natural world Aronsons popular
article, for example has passages in which he and a
postgraduate student dive into the rough waters
around the Isle of Man to view an immense carpet
of brittlestars. In the specialist article, there are few
or no accounts of personal agency: experiments are

described using passive voice, with a focus on goals


rather than actors:
Popularization
To measure predation directly, I tied Ophiothrix to small
weights and set them out as bait at Bay Stacka.
Specialist article:
When assemblages of ophiuroids comparable in density
to those in Sweetings Pond were exposed in open arenas
(from which they could not escape) at a coastal site off
Eleuthera, the brittlestars were completely consumed
within 48 hours.

The downplaying of personal agency in specialist


discourse can be explained by politeness theory.
Myers (1989) argued that, in the specialist discourse
community, the assumption of individual agency is a
face-threatening act. The mythology of the specialist
peer group demands that the community is presented
as the agent that conducts research. The individual is
subordinate to the group. In popularizations, however, the individual scientist is traditionally the fount
of authority, and stories of personal intervention in
nature (with positive or negative results) reinforce the
general stereotypes.
Other salient features of popularizations are their
uses of metaphor and image. Both specialist texts and
popularizations use metaphor; however, as Nelkin
(1995: 11) noted, By their choice of words and
metaphors, journalists convey certain beliefs about
the nature of science and technology, investing them
with social meaning and shaping public conceptions
of limits and possibilities. van Dijck (1998: 22) concurred that metaphors are important ways in which
popularizations communicate to nonspecialists information that is highly abstract or otherwise intangible.
van Dijck also noted that over time the figurative
impact of a metaphor may decline, resulting in a
root metaphor or conceptual archetype (1998:
22). Some popular science writers may seek to accelerate the process, as in Richard Dawkins (1986
[1995]: 482) description of willow seeds drifting in
the air:
It is raining instructions out there; its raining programs;
its raining tree-growing, fluff-spreading algorithms.
That is not a metaphor, it is the plain truth. It couldnt
be any plainer if it were raining floppy disks.

Despite Dawkins assertion, this is a metaphor, and


its use is strategic. If Dawkins readers adopt his
metaphor of the computer program as a means of
understanding DNA, then they also adopt his more
general mechanistic beliefs about nature.
Metaphor and visual imagery combine in the
ways in which popularizations represent seeing (cf.

758 Popularizations

Jordanova, 1989; Lynch and Woolgar, 1990). Looking is an archetypal occupation of the scientist in
popular representations, where white-coated boffins
are seen staring into microscopes or at computer
monitors. Dawkins discussion of willow seeds begins
with him, in his Oxford home, looking through a
pair of binoculars. The myth of unmediated contact
with nature through simple observation permeates
popular representations of science and obscures the
manner in which scientific concepts are often constructs of experimental procedures. Moreover,
Myers (1990: 158165) argued that the visual content of popularizations is more important than in
specialist articles because it both aestheticizes scientific activity and again conceals methodological
issues. Myers gives an example of a popular article
on the physiology of garter snakes that includes an
illustration of the pathway by which a pheronome
reaches the snakes skin. Such visual illustrations
give a sense that one is seeing the organism directly,
rather than through the mediation of scientific theory
and experiment (Myers, 1990: 1612). No equivalent illustration appears in research articles on the
same subject by the same writers; instead the specialist articles present arguments that present the pathway visually presented in the popularization as fact
as strong probability. Examinations of the distribution of modal auxiliaries and adverbs confirm that
popularizations are less likely to contain hedges than
specialist texts again, scientific hypotheses are more
likely to be presented as facts in the public domain.

Nonscientific Popularizations
Less research has been done in popularizations beyond the domains of science and technology. Partly
this is because the division between specialist and
nonspecialist discourse is not seen to be so absolute,
for example, in humanities disciplines such as history
or literature. Becher (1989) related the forms of communication across disciplines to the different communicative relations operating in their respective
discourse communities. The urban hard sciences,
so characterized because of the high density of
researchers working in narrow research areas, can
rely on a considerable number of fellow specialists
sharing a high level of schematic knowledge about
recognized research topics and appropriate experimental procedures. The rural humanities, where
only a few researchers might populate any given research area, cannot rely on the same degree of schematic knowledge, and therefore often have to explain
the relevance of their topic and justify the validity of
their approach even to fellow specialists. Specialist

discourses and popularizations, where such exist,


seem to be linguistically similar: a preliminary examination of both popular and specialist history articles,
for example, suggests that, except where there may be
controversy about the status of the topic, authorial
presence is largely absent, and the historical story
appears to tell itself. However, although science is
by now well represented, more work needs to be
done in the specialist and popular construction of
research in the humanities and social sciences.
See also: Genre and Genre Analysis; Rhetoric: History;

Speech Genres in Cultural Practice; Text and Text


Analysis.

Bibliography
Adams Smith D E (1987). Variation in field-related genres.
ELR Journal 1, 1032.
Aronson R (1987). A murder mystery from the mesozoic.
New Scientist 8 October, 5659.
Aronson R & Sues H-D (1987). The palaeoecological significance of an anachronistic ophiuroid community. In
Kerfoot W C & Sih A (eds.) Predation: direct and indirect
impacts on aquatic communities. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England. 355366.
Bazerman C (1988). Shaping written knowledge: the genre
and activity of the experimental article in science. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Becher T (1989). Academic tribes and territories. Milton
Keynes: Open University Press.
Carey J (ed.) (1995). The Faber book of science. London
and Boston: Faber and Faber.
Cooter R & Pumphrey S (1994). Separate spheres and
public places: reflections on the history of science popularisation and science in popular culture. History of
Science 32, 237267.
Dawkins R (1986). The blind watchmaker. London: Longman. [excerpt in Carey (ed.).] 482487.
Hyland K (2000). Disciplinary discourses: social interactions in academic writing. London: Longman.
Jordanova L (1989). Sexual visions: images of gender in
science and medicine between the enlightenment and
the twentieth century. Madison: University of Wisconsin
Press.
Lightman B (1997). The voices of nature popularizing
Victorian science. In Lightman B (ed.) Victorian science
in context. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
187211.
Lynch M & Woolgar S (eds.) (1990). Representation in
scientific practice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Myers G (1985). Nineteenth century popularisations of
thermodynamics and the rhetoric of social prophecy.
Victorian Studies 29, 3566.
Myers G (1989). The pragmatics of politeness in scientific
articles. Applied Linguistics 10(1), 135.

Porphyrios of Tyros (ca. 232/3301) 759


Myers G (1990). Writing biology: texts in the social construction of scientific knowledge. Madison: University of
Wisconsin Press.
Myers G (1992). Fictions from facts: the form and authority of the scientific dialogue. History of Science 30,
221247.

Nelkin D (1995). Selling science: how the press covers


science and technology (rev. edn.). New York: W. H.
Freeman and Company.
van Dijck J (1998). Imagenation: popular images of genetics. Houndmills and London: Macmillan.

Porphyrios of Tyros (ca. 232/3301)


P Swiggers and A Wouters, Katholieke Universiteit
Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born in Tyros, Porphyrios (whose Semitic name was


Malchos, rendered in Greek as Basileus; the Greek
name Porphyrios from the purple city, i.e., Tyros,
was later given to him as a surname) studied in Athens
with Longinos and in Rome in the magic circle of the
Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinos. A great admirer of
Plotinos, Porphyrios stayed with him for five years,
then went to Sicily to recover from a depression. Upon
Plotinoss death he returned to Rome and dedicated
himself to the editing of the latters Enneads, gaining important status as a Neoplatonic philosopher.
Porphyrioss philosophical work is characterized by
the thesis of metaphysical monism and by the attempt to reconcile Aristotles logic with Platonism;
in matters of religion he violently attacked Christian
doctrines. The date and place of his death are unknown.
Porphyrios is reported to have written some 70
works, of which only very few survive (and most of
these are conserved only fragmentarily). Apart from a
letter to his wife, Marcella, metaphysical aphorisms,
fragments of a commentary on Ptolemys Harmonics
and of a Life of Pythagoras, parts of his 15 books
Against the Christians, an essay on abstinence, and his
biography of Plotinos, there are two utterly important philosophical texts: his fragmentarily conserved
commentary on Aristotles Categories (used to a large
extent by Boethius, who remains our main source
on its contents), and his Isagoge, which became a
standard introduction to logic and philosophy in the
Middle Ages through its Latin translation by Boethius
(there are also medieval translations into Syriac,
Arabic, and Armenian) and the commentaries on it
by Ammonios and Boethius, which provide the basic
texts for later scholastic commentaries. The Isagoge
(literally the bringing in), also known under the

medieval title Quinque Voces (the five words),


though linked with the commentary on the Categories
is not an introduction to it, but rather a general introduction to basic problems and standard terminology
of philosophical thinking. The synthetic treatise deals
with genus, species, differentiae, properties, and accidentia (all philosophical concepts of major relevance
for grammar, and also for semantic and lexicographical
analysis). Although the discussion is very condensed,
Porphyrios provided a standard introduction to the
basic concepts of logic and language study; he also
raised, but refrained from answering, the problem of
the status of universals, which was to become a central
topic of medieval philosophical discussions.

See also: Aristotle and Linguistics; Boethius of Dacia (fl.

1275).

Bibliography
Barnes J (2003). Porphyry: introduction. Translated with
commentary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Bidez J (1913). Vie de Porphyre, le ne o-platonicien. Gand:
van Goethem.
Busse A (1887). Porphyrii Isagoge et in Aristotelis Categorias
commentarium. Berlin: Reimer.
Do rrie H et al. (1966). Entretiens sur lAntiquite classique
XII: Porphyre. Vandoeuvres/Gene`ve: Fondation Hardt.
Girgenti G (1994). Porfirio negli ultimi cinquantanni.
Bibliografia sistematica e ragionata della letteratura
primaria e secondaria riguardante il pensiero porfiriano
e i suoi influssi storici. Milan: Vita e Pensiero.
Lloyd A C (1970). Porphyry and Iamblichus. In Armstrong
A H (ed.) The Cambridge history of later Greek and early
medieval philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. 283301.
Smith A (1974). Porphyrys place in the Neoplatonic tradition. A study in post-Plotinian Neoplatonism. The
Hague: Nijhoff.

Porphyrios of Tyros (ca. 232/3301) 759


Myers G (1990). Writing biology: texts in the social construction of scientific knowledge. Madison: University of
Wisconsin Press.
Myers G (1992). Fictions from facts: the form and authority of the scientific dialogue. History of Science 30,
221247.

Nelkin D (1995). Selling science: how the press covers


science and technology (rev. edn.). New York: W. H.
Freeman and Company.
van Dijck J (1998). Imagenation: popular images of genetics. Houndmills and London: Macmillan.

Porphyrios of Tyros (ca. 232/3301)


P Swiggers and A Wouters, Katholieke Universiteit
Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Born in Tyros, Porphyrios (whose Semitic name was


Malchos, rendered in Greek as Basileus; the Greek
name Porphyrios from the purple city, i.e., Tyros,
was later given to him as a surname) studied in Athens
with Longinos and in Rome in the magic circle of the
Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinos. A great admirer of
Plotinos, Porphyrios stayed with him for five years,
then went to Sicily to recover from a depression. Upon
Plotinoss death he returned to Rome and dedicated
himself to the editing of the latters Enneads, gaining important status as a Neoplatonic philosopher.
Porphyrioss philosophical work is characterized by
the thesis of metaphysical monism and by the attempt to reconcile Aristotles logic with Platonism;
in matters of religion he violently attacked Christian
doctrines. The date and place of his death are unknown.
Porphyrios is reported to have written some 70
works, of which only very few survive (and most of
these are conserved only fragmentarily). Apart from a
letter to his wife, Marcella, metaphysical aphorisms,
fragments of a commentary on Ptolemys Harmonics
and of a Life of Pythagoras, parts of his 15 books
Against the Christians, an essay on abstinence, and his
biography of Plotinos, there are two utterly important philosophical texts: his fragmentarily conserved
commentary on Aristotles Categories (used to a large
extent by Boethius, who remains our main source
on its contents), and his Isagoge, which became a
standard introduction to logic and philosophy in the
Middle Ages through its Latin translation by Boethius
(there are also medieval translations into Syriac,
Arabic, and Armenian) and the commentaries on it
by Ammonios and Boethius, which provide the basic
texts for later scholastic commentaries. The Isagoge
(literally the bringing in), also known under the

medieval title Quinque Voces (the five words),


though linked with the commentary on the Categories
is not an introduction to it, but rather a general introduction to basic problems and standard terminology
of philosophical thinking. The synthetic treatise deals
with genus, species, differentiae, properties, and accidentia (all philosophical concepts of major relevance
for grammar, and also for semantic and lexicographical
analysis). Although the discussion is very condensed,
Porphyrios provided a standard introduction to the
basic concepts of logic and language study; he also
raised, but refrained from answering, the problem of
the status of universals, which was to become a central
topic of medieval philosophical discussions.

See also: Aristotle and Linguistics; Boethius of Dacia (fl.

1275).

Bibliography
Barnes J (2003). Porphyry: introduction. Translated with
commentary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Bidez J (1913). Vie de Porphyre, le neo-platonicien. Gand:
van Goethem.
Busse A (1887). Porphyrii Isagoge et in Aristotelis Categorias
commentarium. Berlin: Reimer.
Dorrie H et al. (1966). Entretiens sur lAntiquite classique
XII: Porphyre. Vandoeuvres/Gene`ve: Fondation Hardt.
Girgenti G (1994). Porfirio negli ultimi cinquantanni.
Bibliografia sistematica e ragionata della letteratura
primaria e secondaria riguardante il pensiero porfiriano
e i suoi influssi storici. Milan: Vita e Pensiero.
Lloyd A C (1970). Porphyry and Iamblichus. In Armstrong
A H (ed.) The Cambridge history of later Greek and early
medieval philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. 283301.
Smith A (1974). Porphyrys place in the Neoplatonic tradition. A study in post-Plotinian Neoplatonism. The
Hague: Nijhoff.

760 Port-Royal Tradition of Grammar

Port-Royal Tradition of Grammar


M Tsiapera, The University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, NC, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The chief manifestation of philosophical grammar


in the 16th century was the book by Julius Caesar
Scaliger, De causis linguae Latinae. Scaligers intent
was to apply to language Aristotles logical categories.
This way of thinking about language and grammars
reached its climax with the Port-Royal manuals and
in particular with the Grammaire generale et raisonee
(GGR) of Arnaud and Lancelot. However, grammars
are manifestations of the societies that give them
birth. The spirit and culture of the age are reflected
in all aspects of intellectual pursuits, including the
study of language. Seventeenth-century France prided
itself with its intellect and rationality. Philosophy as
well as grammatical thought at Port-Royal were
closely associated with Cartesianism. Thus, the study
of language was a venture in knowledge and was
absolutely necessary for increasing the depth and
range of ones ability to cross-reference all other subjects. Both the historical aspect and the cognitive one
were interwoven. If languages are events in the history of humanity, then by implication they have connections with other events. In other words, grammatical
ideas are responses, in part, to the social, religious,
and political issues of the time and, in part, consequences of the works that preceded. The Port-Royal
grammars and in particular the GGR of Arnauld and
Lancelot is, in my opinion, a reasonable starting point
for historiography to link both the history and philosophy of linguistics, the view being that the GGR
marked the point in time when the study of language
moved out of the prescriptive grid, based mostly on
Latin and, to some extent, Greek teaching manuals,
and rose to an autonomous subject based on logic and
reason.
This inquiry came about as a consequence of the
Reformation and the political situation in France. Up
to that point, the Jesuits controlled education and
religion over all of Catholic Europe for 200 years. It
was at this time that the Jansenists chose not to break
away from the Catholic Church, but rather tried to
reform it, based on the techniques of St. Augustine.
The Jansenists felt that the Church needed to get back
to the teachings and philosophy of St. Augustine as it
was laid out in the Augustinus by Jansen. The Jesuits
exerted a great deal of pressure against the Augustinus
that led to its banning in 1641. Jansen died in 1638,
thus leaving the Port-Royal community to handle
the controversies. It was this Jansenist movement that

contributed to the fame of Port-Royal. The PortRoyalists believed that many of the social, religious,
and political problems of France could be resolved
through the Augustinian teachings. These clashes between the Jansenists of Port-Royal and the Jesuits who
exercised both religious and political power contributed to the publicity and fame of Port-Royal. Also, since
Jansenism was not favored by the government, it was
naturally made popular in the salons of Paris. It goes
without saying that Having undergone spiritual regeneration, they soon discovered they were surrounded
by unreconstructed, hostile forces . . . they soon discovered that the crown too was unfavorably disposed to
them (Sedwick, 1977: 195). To advance their philosophical and religious views, the Jansenists founded the
petites-ecoles that lasted only 22 years, but their influence far exceeded their short life. The Abbe de Saint
Cyran founded the school with the purpose of training
clerics. Six boys would be chosen as is indicated by the
letter mentioned in Sainte-Beuve (1954: 418). However, the plan was soon changed to a school with a
traditional education with a Jansenist/Port-Royal philosophy. This is important because the Port-Royal
philosophy of children and childrens education is the
center of the teaching manuals, the GGR, and the
logique (Fontaine (1696), 1887: 33; Carre, 1971: XV;
Lancelot, 1968). The Jansenists believed that, as a consequence of the Fall, childrens souls were possessed by
the devil, and only through baptism, innocence may be
restored. But since children are defenseless to the temptations, the responsibility is left to the parents and
educators. Thus, education should stress reason and
good judgment. The development of such thinking
would fall on the methods used by the teachers. The
GGR and the logique were part of the plan for the
development of good judgment and clear thinking.
Nicole, in the preface of the logique states There is
nothing more laudable than good sense and the correctness of the mind in distinguishing the true from the
false. (Arnauld and Nicole, 1662: 5). In fact, the success of the logique continued long after the GGR. There
were 49 printings in French, 13 in Latin, and nine in
English. It was published two years after the GGR, but
it was actually written about the same time. If one was
to look at the educational materials of Port-Royal, one
would conclude that Lancelot and his coauthor
Arnauld and Nicole and many of the other pedagogues
used incredibly advanced methods for teaching. Lancelot, an unassuming teacher at Port-Royal, taught and
coauthored grammars such as La nouvelle methode
Latine. The New Method was so successful that he
used the same methodology for Greek, followed by
Greek Roots, Spanish, and Italian. In all his work

Port-Royal Tradition of Grammar 761

Lancelot pursued the goal of devising new, less painful methods of learning a language. (Tsiapera and
Wheeler, 1993: 109).
Traditionally, students learned to read and write
Latin using the direct method, but the petites-e coles
taught French and then Latin. The students read
the Latin materials in French before going to the
original. Lancelot discussed his method in a letter to
de Sacy (Carre , 1887: 70). The concern with language
at Port-Royal was based on the premise that the
trivium grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic were
the prerequisites for the quadrivium. By the 17th
century, basic reading and mathematical skills were
necessary for upward mobility into the middle classes, but for the Port-Royal the aims were much higher.
The study of language led to clear thinking and good
judgment. The New Method of teaching that
became the system used at the petites-e coles was successful for a number of reasons: (a) it greatly improved the study of languages; (b) up to this point
grammars of any language were written in Latin; (c)
the GGR was a scientific and philosophical treatise
written in French that moved away from prescriptivism, although not altogether original. Arnauld and
Lancelot combined their ideas with those of their
predecessors. The 17th and 18th centuries considered
it original and a change in direction. Finally, it set the
precedent for grammars to be written in the vernacular rather than in Latin, which resulted in the great
success of Port-Royal grammars. The grammars written before in Latin were quickly forgotten.

Bibliography
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docteur de la maison et societe de Sorbonne. Brussels:
Culture et civilisation.
Arnauld A & Lancelot C (1968). Grammaire ge ne rale et
raisone e de Port-Royal. Geneva: Slatkine Reprints.
Arnauld A & Lancelot C (1972). Grammaire ge ne rale et
raisone e/La Logique ou lart de parler. Geneva: Slatkine
Reprints.
Arnauld A & Lancelot C (1975). General and
rational grammar: the Port-Royal grammar. The Hague:
Mouton.
Arnauld A & Nicole P (1964). The art of thinking: PortRoyal logic. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co.
Arnauld A & Nicole P (1965). La logique ou lart de penser.
Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.
Beard C (1861). Port-Royal: a contribution to the history of
religion and literature in France. London: Longman,
Green, Longman, and Roberts.

Breva-Claramonte M (1978). The sign and the notion of


general grammar in Sanctius and Port-Royal. Semiotica
24, 353370.
Brunot F (1966). Histoire de la langue francaise des origines a
nos jours (Vol. IV, part 1). Paris: Librairie Armand Colin.
Carre I (1971). Les Pedagogues de Port-Royal (1887).
Geneva: Slatkine Reprints.
Chomsky N (1966). Cartesian linguistics. New York: Harper
and Row.
De Sacy A-I S (1975). Principes de grammarie ge ne rale,
mis a` la porte e des enfants. Reprinted Stuttgart-Bad
Cannstatt: Friedrich Frommann Verlag.
Descartes R (1960). Discours de la me thode pour bien
conduire sa raison et chercher la verite dans les sciences.
Paris: Garnier Fre`res.
Dickoff J & James P (1964). Introduction. In Arnauld A &
Nicole P (eds.).
Dominicy M (1984). La naissance de la grammaire modern:
language, logique et philosophie a` Port-Royal. Brussels:
P. Mardaga.
Donze R (1967). La grammaire ge ne rale et raisone e de
Port-Royal. Berne: Editions A. Francke.
Foucault M (1970). The order of things: an archaeology of
the human sciences. New York: Pantheon.
Joly A (1977). La linguistique carte sienne: une erreur me morable. In Joly A & Stefanin J (eds.) La grammaire ge ne rale de Modistes aux Ideologues. Lille: Universite de
Lille. 165200.
Lancelot C (1653). Nouvelle me thode pour apprendre
facilement et en peu de temps la langue latine (4th edn.).
Paris: Pierre le Petit.
Lancelot C (1658). Nouvelle me thode pour apprendre facilement la langue greque (2nd edn.). Paris: Pierre le Petit.
Lancelot C (1660). Nouvelle me thode pour apprendre
facilement et en peu de temps la langue espagnole.
Paris: Pierre de Petit.
Lancelot C (1660). Nouvelle me thode pour apprendre
facilement et en peu de temps la langue italienne. Paris:
Pierre de Petit.
Lancelot C (1968). Me moires touchant la vie de Monsieur
de S. Cyran. Pour servir declaircissement a lhistorie de
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Padley G (1976). Grammatical theory in Western Europe,
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University Press.
Padley G (1985). Grammatical theory in Western Europe,
15001700; Trends in vernacular grammar I. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Sainte-Beuve C-A (1954). Port-Royal. (vol. 2) (1840). Paris:
Librairie Gallimard.
Sedgwick A (1977). Jansenism in 17th century France: voices
from the wilderness. Charlottesville, VA: University Press
of Virginia.
Tsiapera M & Wheeler G (1993). The Port-Royal grammar:
sources and influences. Muster: Nodus Publikationen.

762 Portugal: Language Situation

Portugal: Language Situation


D G Frier
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is reproduced from the first edition, volume 6,
pp. 32333234, 1994, Elsevier Ltd.

The official language used in Portugal for all normal


purposes is European Portuguese. There are very limited areas in the northeast of the country, adjacent to
the border with Spain, where the indigenous form of
speech is more akin to the Leonese dialect of Spanish,
and one other enclave of strong Spanish influence in
the Baixo Alentejo region, although the number of
speakers affected is decreasing. In general terms, Portugal may be said to be linguistically one of the most
homogenous countries in the world, there being no
minority languages indigenous to the country, and all
dialects being generally mutually intelligible. There is,
however, some variation evident in dialect forms,
most notably in the north of the country, as a result
of both historical and geographical factors, while the
two Atlantic island groups of Madeira and the Azores
also show some notable differences from the standard

language, which is based upon the speech of the central region between Lisbon and Coimbra.
There are no specific areas of bilingualism, although the return of migrant workers from the
north of Europe and the tourist boom of recent decades in the Algarve have brought significant numbers
of native or near-native speakers of other languages
into permanent residence in the country. English and
French are the principal foreign languages taught in
Portuguese schools. Levels of illiteracy are still among
the highest in Europe, although considerable progress
has been made in recent years, with a government
estimate of 29% of the adult population as illiterate
in 1970 falling to 16% in 1985.
See also: Portuguese; Spain: Language Situation.

Language Maps (Appendix 1): Map 141.

Bibliography
Vazquez Cuesta P & Mendes da Luz M A (1983). Gramatica da Lngua Portuguesa. Lisbon: Edicoes Setenta.

Portuguese
A T de Castilho
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is reproduced from the previous edition, volume 6,
pp. 32343236, 1994, Elsevier Ltd.

Portuguese is the fifth most widely spoken language in


the world, being spoken in Europe (Portugal), South
America (Brazil), and Africa (Angola, Mozambique,
Sao Tome and Principe Islands, Cape Verde, and
GuineaBissau). Approximately 168 million people
speak the language, most of them in Brazil. In Portugal
and Brazil, Portuguese is the native language, whereas
in the other countries it is the official state language,
being native for less than 20% of the population.

History
Portuguese is a Romance language, belonging, with
Spanish and CatalanValencianBalear (Catalan), to
the IberoRomance subgroup (see Catalan; Romance
Languages; Spanish).

It arose from Vulgar Latin, which was brought to


the Iberian Peninsula between 218 and 19 B.C. Once
the conquest of the peninsula was an established
fact, the Romans divided the new province into two
parts: Hispania Ulterior (Farther Spain, including
Baetica and Lusitania), where Galician (see Galician)
developed, and Hispania Citerior (Nearer Spain, including Tarraconensis and Gallaecia), where various
linguistic varieties, including Spanish and Catalan, developed. The two regions underwent different forms
of colonization. Hispania Ulterior was colonized by
the senators of the Roman aristocracy, giving rise to
a conservative form of Latin. Hispania Citerior, on
the other hand, was colonized by military men, leading to the development of an innovative linguistic
variety. This explains in part the differences between
Portuguese and Spanish.
The original Latin base was modified by contact
with the Germanic tribes who dominated the peninsula
from the 5th to the 7th centuries, and with the Arabic
tribes who dominated two-thirds of the peninsula from
the 8th to the 15th centuries. After an inevitable
bilingual phase, Latin emerged victorious, being

762 Portugal: Language Situation

Portugal: Language Situation


D G Frier
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is reproduced from the first edition, volume 6,
pp. 32333234, 1994, Elsevier Ltd.

The official language used in Portugal for all normal


purposes is European Portuguese. There are very limited areas in the northeast of the country, adjacent to
the border with Spain, where the indigenous form of
speech is more akin to the Leonese dialect of Spanish,
and one other enclave of strong Spanish influence in
the Baixo Alentejo region, although the number of
speakers affected is decreasing. In general terms, Portugal may be said to be linguistically one of the most
homogenous countries in the world, there being no
minority languages indigenous to the country, and all
dialects being generally mutually intelligible. There is,
however, some variation evident in dialect forms,
most notably in the north of the country, as a result
of both historical and geographical factors, while the
two Atlantic island groups of Madeira and the Azores
also show some notable differences from the standard

language, which is based upon the speech of the central region between Lisbon and Coimbra.
There are no specific areas of bilingualism, although the return of migrant workers from the
north of Europe and the tourist boom of recent decades in the Algarve have brought significant numbers
of native or near-native speakers of other languages
into permanent residence in the country. English and
French are the principal foreign languages taught in
Portuguese schools. Levels of illiteracy are still among
the highest in Europe, although considerable progress
has been made in recent years, with a government
estimate of 29% of the adult population as illiterate
in 1970 falling to 16% in 1985.
See also: Portuguese; Spain: Language Situation.

Language Maps (Appendix 1): Map 141.

Bibliography
Vazquez Cuesta P & Mendes da Luz M A (1983). Gramatica da Lngua Portuguesa. Lisbon: Edicoes Setenta.

Portuguese
A T de Castilho
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
This article is reproduced from the previous edition, volume 6,
pp. 32343236, 1994, Elsevier Ltd.

Portuguese is the fifth most widely spoken language in


the world, being spoken in Europe (Portugal), South
America (Brazil), and Africa (Angola, Mozambique,
Sao Tome and Principe Islands, Cape Verde, and
GuineaBissau). Approximately 168 million people
speak the language, most of them in Brazil. In Portugal
and Brazil, Portuguese is the native language, whereas
in the other countries it is the official state language,
being native for less than 20% of the population.

History
Portuguese is a Romance language, belonging, with
Spanish and CatalanValencianBalear (Catalan), to
the IberoRomance subgroup (see Catalan; Romance
Languages; Spanish).

It arose from Vulgar Latin, which was brought to


the Iberian Peninsula between 218 and 19 B.C. Once
the conquest of the peninsula was an established
fact, the Romans divided the new province into two
parts: Hispania Ulterior (Farther Spain, including
Baetica and Lusitania), where Galician (see Galician)
developed, and Hispania Citerior (Nearer Spain, including Tarraconensis and Gallaecia), where various
linguistic varieties, including Spanish and Catalan, developed. The two regions underwent different forms
of colonization. Hispania Ulterior was colonized by
the senators of the Roman aristocracy, giving rise to
a conservative form of Latin. Hispania Citerior, on
the other hand, was colonized by military men, leading to the development of an innovative linguistic
variety. This explains in part the differences between
Portuguese and Spanish.
The original Latin base was modified by contact
with the Germanic tribes who dominated the peninsula
from the 5th to the 7th centuries, and with the Arabic
tribes who dominated two-thirds of the peninsula from
the 8th to the 15th centuries. After an inevitable
bilingual phase, Latin emerged victorious, being

Portuguese 763

transformed into a peninsular Romance language


after the 8th century.
Portuguese arose in the northwest of the Iberian
peninsula, specifically in the County of Portucale, one
of the divisions of the Kingdom of Castile. Initially,
Portuguese formed a single language with Galician,
although this unity was threatened with the movement
of Portuguese to the south during the Reconquest.
The first texts in Portuguese can be divided into
literary and nonliterary texts. The earliest nonliterary
texts date from the 13th century. During the reign of
D. Dinis (12791325), Portuguese became the official
language of Portugal and was used to write legal
documents. The oldest nonliterary text dates from
1214. It is the Testamento de D. Afonso II, the third
king of Portugal. The next was Noticia de Torto,
written between 1214 and 1216, which tells of a disagreement (torto) motivated by the mismanagement
of rural property.
The oldest literary texts date from the 12th century:
the Cantiga dEscarnio written in 1196 by Joan Soarez
de Pavia, the Cantiga da Ribeirinha by D. Sancho I,
and the Cantiga de Garvaia by Pai Soares de Taveiros.
Medieval Galician poetry consists of 1679 lyric and
satiric poems and 427 religious compositions, written
between 1196 and 1350. The prose texts consist of
versions of Latin and French literature in translation,
historiography, and religious and philosophical texts.
During the commercial expansion in the 15th and
16th centuries, Portuguese was taken to Africa, Asia,
and America. In these regions, pidgins arose and some
of these became creoles.
Portuguese pidgins were the first Romance pidgins to
emerge. They developed principally in western Africa
from the last quarter of the 15th century in Cape Verde,
Sierra Leone, the islands of Sao Tome and Principe,
and GuineaBissau. Curiously enough, these pidgins
were developed in Europe itself during the training of
Africans brought to Portugal to learn the language so
that they could act as interpreters for the merchants.
These pidgins gave rise to creoles throughout the
world. In Africa, there are various creoles, including
those of Sao Tome and Principe (Angolar, Forro,
Principense (Monco), Cape Verde, and Guinea
Bissau. In Asia, the semicreole SinoPortuguese of
Macao was further influenced by Portuguese, whereas the Malayan Portuguese of Java, Malacca, and
Singapore, and the Indian Portuguese of Sri Lanka,
Goa, Damao, and Diu have almost disappeared. In the
Caribbean, Papiamento from the island of Curacao
was relexified, and, in the late 20th century, is a creole
of Spanish. And in South America from the 17th
century, a group of Jews left Brazil with their slaves,
taking their creole with them to Surinam (Dutch
Guyana).

Characteristics of Portuguese
In both Europe and Latin America, Portuguesespeaking countries are bordered by Spanish-speaking
ones; there are, however, a few differences separating
the two languages. The following sentences can be
used to exemplify some of these differences, as well as
those between European Portuguese (EP) and Brazilian
Portuguese (BP).
Portuguese: A mulher comprou os ovos mais lindos
da feira. (1)
The woman bought the eggs most beautiful of the
market.
Se tivesse mais dinheiro, levaria tambe m para sua
irma . (2)
If (she) had more money, (she) would take (some) also
to her sister.
Syntactic Characteristics

Not only EP but BP has a preferred SVO word order,


as does French. Spanish, however, tends to prefer an
OVS order: Los huevos ma s lindos de la feria los ha
comprado la mujer.
The subject is omitted in EP (se tivesse mais
dinheiro . . .) and in Spanish (si tuviera ma s dinero
. . .). In BP, however, there is a tendency to repeat the
subject: se a mulher/se ela tivesse mais dinheiro . . . .
The direct object is expressed by an NP or a clitic in
EP (A mulher comprou os ovos/A mulher comprou-os
. . .) and in Spanish (La mujer ha comprado los huevos/La mujer los ha comprado . . .), whereas the tonic
pronoun may either be used or omitted in BP
(A mulher comprou eles/A mulher comprou ).
Morphological Characteristics

The Verb Portuguese maintains the distinction between the preterito perfeito simples simple preterite
(comprou), used to express the perfective aspect, and
the preterito perfeito composto compound preterite
(tem comprado), used for the imperfect aspect; the
auxiliary for the compound tense in Portuguese is ter.
There is a tendency, however, for the corresponding
Spanish forms (compro and ha comprado) to have lost
this distinction; moreover, the auxiliary for Spanish
is haber. Portuguese distinguishes the imperfeito do
subjunctivo imperfect subjunctive (tivesse), which is
a subordinate tense, from the mais que perfeito do
indicativo pluperfect indicative (tivera), which indicates the distant past. Spanish has lost the imperfeito
do subjunctivo, replacing it with the mais que perfeito
do indicativo (si tuviera ma s plata).
The Adjective The comparative degree is formed
with reflexes of Latin magis in both Portuguese and

764 Portuguese

Spanish, respectively mais lindos and ma s lindos, in


contrast to the French and Italian reflexes of plus,
respectively plus beaux and piu belli.
Phonological Characteristics

Monophthongs Portuguese has seven stressed vowel


phonemes: /a/, /E/, /e/, /i/, /O/, /o/, /u/. This contrasts
with the five of Spanish, since in Portuguese the halfclosed and half-open front and back vowels are used
distinctively, as for example in the singular and plural
of egg (ovo /"ovu/, ovos /"Ovus/) and in the masculine
and feminine third-person pronouns (ele /"ele/, ela/"Ela/).
Portuguese also developed nasal vowels with phonemic value (lindo /"ldu/ beautiful, lido /"lidu/
read); this did not happen in Spanish.
Diphthongs Spanish diphthongized the short vowels
(o vu > huevo), whereas Portuguese did not (o vu >
ovo), except in certain dialects. Diphthongs did develop in Portuguese when an intervocalic consonant was eliminated and two vowels within a single
word became contiguous; these vowels then occur
in Portuguese in words that have simple vowels in
Spanish: Portuguese mais, Spanish ma s; Portuguese
comprou, Spanish compro ; Portuguese coisa, Spanish
cosa thing; Portuguese dinheiro, Spanish dinero.
Consonants Portuguese lost intervocalic [n] and [l],
whereas Spanish retained them: irma /hermana sister;
dor/dolor pain.

Varieties of Portuguese
EP presents a notable lack of differentiation, with
the variety of Lisbon providing the standard. The
substitution of [v] for [b], the apico-alveolar pronunciation of [s] and [z], the maintenance of the
affricate [ts], and the maintenance of the diphthongs
[aw] and [ow], distinguish the dialects of the north
(Trasmontano, Interamnense, Beirao) from those
of the south (Estremenho, Alentejano, Algarvio). In
Portuguese territory, various varieties of Leone s are
also spoken: Rionore s, Guadramile s, and Mirande s.
The introduction of EP to Brazil began in the 16th
century. There it came into contact with the 300 indigenous languages spoken by approximately 1 million
individuals, as well as with those of some 18 million Negro slaves from the Bantu and Sudanese cultures who were brought to the country over a period
of three centuries. BP went through three historical
phases: (a) 15331654, a phase of bilingualism with
a strong predominance of Tupinamba (Old Tupi);
(b) 16541880, a phase during which Old Tupi gave
way to creole varieties; and (c) after 1808, a phase

involving an intense urbanization of the country, with


massive immigration of Portuguese settlers and a consequent approximation of BP to EP. This last phase also
marked the beginning of the distinction between rural
and urban speech.
BP also presents great uniformity, although there are
minor differences. The speech of the north (Amazon
and the northeast) is distinguished from that of the
south (Mineiro, Paulista, Carioca, and Gau cho) by
the raising of the pretonic medial vowel resulting in
the production of a close vowel (feliz /fi"lis/ happy,
chover /su"veR / to rain) or by an open vowel (feliz
/fE"lis/, noturnu /nO"tuRnu/ nocturnal), by the nasalization of vowels followed by a nasal consonant (cama
/"ka ma/ bed), by the replacement of [v] with [b]
(varrer /ba"ReR /, vassoura /ba"sora/ broom), and by
the affricates /ts/ and /dZ/ (oito /"oytsu/ eight, muito
/"mu tsu/ too much). There is no single standard, but
rather several centers and regional standards: Bele m,
Recife, Salvador, Sa o Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Porto
Alegre. In the south, BP penetrates into Uruguayan
territory.
Since the 19th century, the relationship between
BP and EP has been an object of attention. Two
different hypotheses have been advanced: the creolization hypothesis and the parameter-change hypothesis. According to the first, BP had a pidgin phase,
which gave rise to a creole; this is in the early 1990s
in the process of decreolization. This hypothesis is
strengthened if the written language is taken into
consideration, since in schools the attempt is made
to make written BP conform closely to written EP.
However, an examination of the spoken language
makes it impossible to suppose that there has been a
change in the direction of EP, which is leading to a
syntactic convergence of the two varieties. For this
reason, the second hypothesis, parameter change,
seems more probable. According to this, BP grammar
has diverged from the grammar of EP in the following
ways: (a) retention of the subject, which is omitted in
EP because it is already reflected in the verbal morphology; (b) progressive loss of subject inversion,
maintained in EP; (c) loss of the clitic system of the
third person (retained in EP) and object omission; and
(d) changes in relativization rules, with the disappearance of the pronouns cujo and onde, and the appearance of the relative pronoun without a preposition (o
livro que eu preciso instead of o livro de que eu
preciso the book I need), as well as the repetition
of the referent of the relative pronoun (o menino que
a casa dele pegou fogo instead of o menino cuja casa
pegou fogo the boy whose house caught fire; a casa
que eu nasci la instead of a casa onde nasci the house
where I was born). Further studies, especially in the

Possession, Adnominal 765

area of syntax, will shed more light on the precise


nature of the differences between BP and EP.
See also: Catalan;

Galician;

Romance

Languages;

Spanish.

Bibliography
Camara J M (1975). Histo ria e Estrutura da Lingua
Portuguesa. Rio de Janeiro: Padrao.
Castilho A T de (ed.) (1991). Grama tica do Portugue s
Falado 1. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Cintra L F L (1959). A Linguagem dos Foros de Castelo
Rodrigo. Lisbon: CEF.
Cunha C & Cintra L F L (1985). Nova Grama tica do
Lngua Portugue s Contempora neo. Rio de Janeiro:
Nova Fronteira.
Holanda-Ferreira A B (1986). Novo Diciona rio da Lngua
Portuguesa (2nd edn.). Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira.

Ilari R (ed.) (1992). Grama tica do Portugue s Falado (2).


Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Maia C (1986). Histo ria do Galego Portugue s. Coimbra:
INIC.
Mattos e Silva R V (1989). Estruturas Trecentistas. Lisbon:
Casa da Moeda.
Mira Mateus M H, Brito A M, Duarte I & Faria I H (1989).
Grama tica da Lngua Portuguesa (2nd edn.). Lisbon:
Caminho.
Pimpao A J C (1947). Histo ria da Literatura Portuguesa (1).
Lisbon: Quadrante.
Roberts I & Kato M (eds.) (1993). Portugue s Brasleiro:
Uma. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Silva Neto S (1952). Histo ria da Lngua Portuguesa. Rio de
Janeiro: Livros de Portugal.
Spina S (1991). A Lrica Trovadoresca. Sa o Paulo: EDUSP.
Tatallo F (ed.) (1989). Fotografias Sociolingusticas.
Campinas: Pontes.

Possession, Adnominal
M Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Stockholm University,
Stockholm, Sweden
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction: Adnominal Possession and


Possessive Noun Phrases
The phrases Marys house, my daughter, and the boys
hand exemplify adnominal possession, whereby one
entity, the possessee, is represented as possessed in
one or another way by another entity, the possessor.
The concept of linguistic possession is difficult to
define. However, for the purpose of cross-linguistic
comparability, it is possible to define possessive constructions as those that can be used for referring to
LEGAL OWNERSHIP (Marys house/hat) or to KINSHIP relations or BODY-PART relations (my daughter/foot). The
definition allows the reference to pertain to just one of
these relations, to the exclusion of any other: languages may, thus, have several possessive constructions. In addition, in adnominal possession, the
terms for possessor and possessee form one noun
phrase, a possessor NP (PNP), whereby the possessee
and the possessor are referred to by the head of the
noun phrase and by its attribute (dependent), respectively. Adnominal possession is, thus, opposed to
predicative possession, such as Mary has a house,
and to external-possession constructions, e.g., in
Swedish Jag tittade honom i o gonen I looked in his
eyes (lit. I looked him in the eyes) (see Possession,
Predicative; Possession, External).

In the following sections, the main areas of crosslinguistic variation within adnominal possession are
presented briefly, without doing real justice to the
vast literature on the topic.

Form
A number of languages use juxtapositional PNPs,
which lack any overt marker to specify the relation
between the possessee and the possessor (Example
(1)). Most PNPs, however, involve one or several
construction markers to show explicitly that the
possessor and the possessee are related in a specific
way. Construction markers are either morphologically bound to the possessor (dependent-marking), to
the possessee (head-marking), or to both (doublemarking), or appear as analytic (unbound) elements.
Example (1) shows juxtaposition for Singaporean
Malay:
(1) pisang
Ali
banana Ali
Alis banana

Although the genitive case is normally identified


across languages as the typical inflectional dependent-marking in PNPs (Example (2a)), labels used
for the case of the possessor differ in languages in
which the same case can be used for other functions
as well. Some languages show the phenomenon of
suffixaufnahme, a term devised by Nikolaus Finck,
whereby possessors in the genitive case further agree
with the possessee in number, gender, and case (Plank,

Possession, Adnominal 765

area of syntax, will shed more light on the precise


nature of the differences between BP and EP.
See also: Catalan;

Galician;

Romance

Languages;

Spanish.

Bibliography
Camara J M (1975). Historia e Estrutura da Lingua
Portuguesa. Rio de Janeiro: Padrao.
Castilho A T de (ed.) (1991). Gramatica do Portugues
Falado 1. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Cintra L F L (1959). A Linguagem dos Foros de Castelo
Rodrigo. Lisbon: CEF.
Cunha C & Cintra L F L (1985). Nova Gramatica do
Lngua Portugues Contemporaneo. Rio de Janeiro:
Nova Fronteira.
Holanda-Ferreira A B (1986). Novo Dicionario da Lngua
Portuguesa (2nd edn.). Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira.

Ilari R (ed.) (1992). Gramatica do Portugues Falado (2).


Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Maia C (1986). Historia do Galego Portugues. Coimbra:
INIC.
Mattos e Silva R V (1989). Estruturas Trecentistas. Lisbon:
Casa da Moeda.
Mira Mateus M H, Brito A M, Duarte I & Faria I H (1989).
Gramatica da Lngua Portuguesa (2nd edn.). Lisbon:
Caminho.
Pimpao A J C (1947). Historia da Literatura Portuguesa (1).
Lisbon: Quadrante.
Roberts I & Kato M (eds.) (1993). Portugues Brasleiro:
Uma. Campinas: Editora da UNICAMP.
Silva Neto S (1952). Historia da Lngua Portuguesa. Rio de
Janeiro: Livros de Portugal.
Spina S (1991). A Lrica Trovadoresca. Sao Paulo: EDUSP.
Tatallo F (ed.) (1989). Fotografias Sociolingusticas.
Campinas: Pontes.

Possession, Adnominal
M Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Stockholm University,
Stockholm, Sweden
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction: Adnominal Possession and


Possessive Noun Phrases
The phrases Marys house, my daughter, and the boys
hand exemplify adnominal possession, whereby one
entity, the possessee, is represented as possessed in
one or another way by another entity, the possessor.
The concept of linguistic possession is difficult to
define. However, for the purpose of cross-linguistic
comparability, it is possible to define possessive constructions as those that can be used for referring to
LEGAL OWNERSHIP (Marys house/hat) or to KINSHIP relations or BODY-PART relations (my daughter/foot). The
definition allows the reference to pertain to just one of
these relations, to the exclusion of any other: languages may, thus, have several possessive constructions. In addition, in adnominal possession, the
terms for possessor and possessee form one noun
phrase, a possessor NP (PNP), whereby the possessee
and the possessor are referred to by the head of the
noun phrase and by its attribute (dependent), respectively. Adnominal possession is, thus, opposed to
predicative possession, such as Mary has a house,
and to external-possession constructions, e.g., in
Swedish Jag tittade honom i ogonen I looked in his
eyes (lit. I looked him in the eyes) (see Possession,
Predicative; Possession, External).

In the following sections, the main areas of crosslinguistic variation within adnominal possession are
presented briefly, without doing real justice to the
vast literature on the topic.

Form
A number of languages use juxtapositional PNPs,
which lack any overt marker to specify the relation
between the possessee and the possessor (Example
(1)). Most PNPs, however, involve one or several
construction markers to show explicitly that the
possessor and the possessee are related in a specific
way. Construction markers are either morphologically bound to the possessor (dependent-marking), to
the possessee (head-marking), or to both (doublemarking), or appear as analytic (unbound) elements.
Example (1) shows juxtaposition for Singaporean
Malay:
(1) pisang
Ali
banana Ali
Alis banana

Although the genitive case is normally identified


across languages as the typical inflectional dependent-marking in PNPs (Example (2a)), labels used
for the case of the possessor differ in languages in
which the same case can be used for other functions
as well. Some languages show the phenomenon of
suffixaufnahme, a term devised by Nikolaus Finck,
whereby possessors in the genitive case further agree
with the possessee in number, gender, and case (Plank,

766 Possession, Adnominal

1995). This kind of agreement is, of course, quite


normal for possessive pronouns in many languages.
Example (2a) shows dependent-marking for Russian:
(2a) dom
Mixail-a
house.NOM Mixail-GEN
Mixails house

The most common type of head-marking consists


of possessive suffixes or prefixes that vary according
to the person/gender/number of the possessor (Example (2b)). In some languages, e.g., in Afro-Asiatic
languages, nouns used as possessees appear in a special form, a construct state, contrasted to those used
in other positions, an absolute state. Ezafe-markers
(known primarily from Iranian languages) appear
whenever a noun combines with attributes (and are
thus not only restricted to PNPs). Example (2b) shows
head-marking for Hungarian:
(2b) a
szomsze d
kert-je
the neighbor.NOM garden-3SG.POSS.NOM
the neighbors garden

Finally, the various head-marking and dependentmarking techniques can combine in double-marked
PNPs, as shown in Example (2c) for Hungarian:
(2c) a szomsze d-nak a
kert-je
the neighbor-DAT the garden-3SG.POSS.NOM
the neighbors garden

The simplest examples of analytic PNPs involve


pre- and postpositions and particles that pertain to
the possessor, e.g., in Italian, la casa di Maria Marias
house (lit. the house of Maria), and may be considered the analytic counterpart of dependent-marking.
As the English s-marker shows, there is no strict
border between adpositions and dependent-marking.
Sometimes the analytic marker further agrees with
the possessee: thus, in the Bantu languages, the so
called associative particle (normally -a) takes different class prefixes in accordance with the possessees
nominal class, or gender.
A different type of analytic PNP involves resumptive (or linking) pronouns, i.e., possessive pronouns
adjacent to the possessee, as in the colloquial German
example dem Vater sein Buch Fathers book (lit.
Father.DAT his book). These are often syntactically
associated with the head of the PNP and may further
develop into head-marking, but in some languages,
e.g., in Norwegian, the resumptive pronoun has come
to be associated with the dependent. There are also
several minor PNP types.
The structurally different PNP types are not evenly
distributed across languages. Thus, the languages in
Europe preferentially use dependent-marking PNPs,
the second choice being double-marked (mainly in

the eastern and southeastern periphery of Europe)


and prepositional PNPs (Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 2003).
Globally (Bickel and Nichols, 2005a), dependentmarking and its analytic counterparts are the preferred PNP types, apart from in the Americas and
Melanesia, where head-marking dominates. Juxtaposition is, in general, quite uncommon, except for
combinations with kin terms and/or body-parts (see
later), and the same goes for double-marking, which
occurs in languages in several well-defined areas of
the world.
Both word-order typologies, i.e., possessee
possessor and possessorpossessee (i.e., noun precedes genitive and genitive precedes noun, or NG
and GN, to use the labels current in this connection)
are found with almost equal frequency. Greenbergs
(1966) original word-order correlations have been
partly confirmed and partly rejected by later research.
Thus, object-precedes-verb (OV) languages prefer the
GN order, subject-verb-object (SVO) languages can
have both GN and NG order, and all other verbprecedes-object (VO) languages prefer the order
NG (for details, see Dryer, 2005). The word-order
typologies GN and NG tend to occur in languages
with post-positions and pre-positions, respectively, although neither typology shows significant correlation with the order between nouns and their
adjectival attributes (Dryer, 1992).

Functions
As is well known, English PNPs with s-genitives
refer not only to LEGAL OWNERSHIP, KIN relations, or
BODY-PART (person/animal) relations, but also to DISPOSAL (Marys office), AUTHOR or ORIGINATOR (Marys
poem), CARRIER OF PROPERTIES (Marys cleverness), SOCIAL RELATIONS (Marys neighbor), and many other
relations. Even inanimate possessors are allowed in
such NPs, e.g., to refer to PART-WHOLE relations (the
mountains top) and TEMPORAL and LOCATIVE relations
(Mondays performance, Stockholms banks). It has
been suggested that the common semantic (or pragmatic) denominator in the majority of PNPs is the
function of the possessors as anchors (Hawkins,
1991; Fraurud, 1990), or as reference point entities
(Langacker, 1995) for identification of the heads
referents. Thus, knowing who Mary is, we can identify Marys house, daughter, foot, neighbor, etc. The
exact interpretation of a particular PNP is, however,
dependent on three main factors:
1. Semantics of the head (possessee) e.g., its
relationality, that is, whether it invokes a special
relation to another entity, or, more generally, its
qualia structure (Pustejovsky, 1998) (see Nouns).

Possession, Adnominal 767

2. Ontological class and discourse status of the dependent (possessor) e.g., whether it is human vs.
animate vs. inanimate, and topical vs. non-topical.
3. Context.
Languages vary considerably in how these factors
interact, particularly in regard to how many structurally different PNPs they have, what motivates the
choice among those, and what relations each of
them may cover.
Co-occurrence of several different possessive constructions in the same language occurs frequently.
A choice among the constructions often depends on
the nature of the possessee and/or on its exact relation
to the possessor. The following examples illustrate
for Maltese (Semitic) the opposition between inalienable (Example (3a)) and alienable (Example (3b))
possession, or the alienability split:
(3a) bin is-sulta n
son DEF-king
the kings son
..

(3b) is-siggu
ta
DEF-chair
of
Peters chair

id
ir-ragel
hand DEF-man
the mans hand
Pietru
Peter

This opposition is often described as a semantic


one, reflecting some basic difference between typically inalienable concepts and others, e.g., in their relationality (inalienable nominals have an additional
argument as compared to others) or in the way their
referents are conceived of (as being inherently cognitively or physically connected to other entities). However, from a cross-linguistic prospective, all of these
semantic characterizations are too general. A most
striking fact is that relational nouns as a whole class
are never opposed to non-relational nouns in the
ways that the two combine with their dependents.
Typically, inalienables form a closed set, which normally includes body-part terms and/or kin terms;
what is at stake here, thus, is a lexical, rather than a
semantic classification.
Structurally, inalienable constructions tend to involve head-marking or juxtaposition of the possessee and the possessor nominals, whereas alienable
constructions are often analytic or involve dependent-marking. The recurrent covariation of form and
meaning has received various explanations. Haiman
(1985: 106), for example, proposed a synchronic
functional explanation based on iconic motivation,
whereby the greater the formal distance between
X and Y, the greater the conceptual distance between
the notions they represent. There is, however, sufficient evidence that alienability splits often arise due
to grammaticalization processes that give rise to
an opposition between the archaic, inalienable

construction and the innovative, alienable construction (see Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 1996; Heine, 1997).
The cross-linguistically most frequently occurring
alienability splits involve an opposition between one
closed and one open nominal class. Multiple closed
classes are also attested: e.g., Nez Perce (Sahaptian,
United States) has three classes, Burushaski (isolate,
India) has four classes, and Amele (Madang, Papua
New Guinea) has 32 classes. Multiple classification is
particularly prominent (but still rare) in Melanesia
(Bickel and Nichols, 2005b). A number of languages,
particularly in the Americas (Bickel and Nichols,
2005b), have obligatorily possessed nouns. As shown
in Examples (4a) and (4b), in Yucatec Maya, inalienable body part terms never occur outside
PNPs (Lehmann, 1996: 50, 54). Conversely, in some
languages, certain nominals can never be possessed
unless they take special additional morphemes.
(4a) in

chi
mouth
my mouth
1SG.POSS

(4b) *le

chi(-tsil)-o

DEFmouth(-ABSOL)-DIST

the mouth

Some languages have a system of possessive, or relational, classifiers, i.e., special elements that specify
the real-world relation that obtains between the
referents (Lichtenberk, 1983: 148) of the possessor
and possessee nominals, e.g., whether an object is
used for eating raw or cooked, as a plant, as a prey,
etc., as in Examples (5a)(5c). Such constructions
occur primarily in Oceania: among the Micronesian
languages, relational classifier systems sometimes involve more than 20 members (Lichtenberk, 1983;
Bickel and Nichols, 2005b). Normally only alienable
nominals require specification. The following construction is for Iaai (Austronesian, Oceanic: the
Loyalty Islands) (Lichtenberk, 1983: 159):
(5a) e

-k

koko
yam
my yam, for eating

CLASS-my

(5b) nuu

-k

koko
yam
my yam plant

CLASS-my

(5c) a i

-k

koko
yam
my yam, general sense

CLASS-my

The frequent function of the possessors as anchors or


reference point entities for identifying other entities
is, probably, a functional rationale for the articlepossessor complementarity in English, Swedish, Scottish Gaelic, Romani, Mordvin, and a number of other

768 Possession, Adnominal

languages, e.g., *a/*the Peters hat (Haspelmath,


1999; Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 2003). Thus, Haspelmath
(1999: 227) claimed that such patterns are economically motivated: the definite article can be omitted
because possessed NPs have a very high chance of
being definite, for semantic and pragmatic reasons.
However, most languages with articles allow articles
to co-occur with possessors, as in Italian un/il mio
libre one of my books/my book. The two types of
possessors those that can co-occur with articles
and those that cannot are sometimes called adjectival-genitives (vs. determiner-genitives) (Lyons, 1986).
A language can occasionally have both types of genitives, e.g., s-genitives and of-genitives in English.
Clearly, not all entities are equally good at
providing clues for the identification of other entities.
Accordingly, the best and most frequently named
possessors are humans and easily accessible (i.e.,
topical or at least definite) possessors. Languages
often have different PNP structures for highly topical
human possessors, such as pronouns, proper names,
and kin terms, and other types of possessors. On the
other hand, the various roles traditionally ascribed
to human possessors of non-inalienable possessees,
such as LEGAL OWNERSHIP, DISPOSAL, AUTHOR or ORIGINATOR, CARRIER OF PROPERTIES, and SOCIAL RELATIONS, are
normally expressed with the same structure. However, the English subjective and objective genitives in
nominalizations (as in Peters reading of the book)
often correspond to non-possessor expressions in
other languages (see Nominalization). There tend to
be much stronger restrictions on non-human possessors, and particularly on inanimates as possessors,
and on their possible relations to the possessee.
Thus, although PART-WHOLE relations are often
expressed by PNPs, languages vary considerably as
to whether TEMPORAL and LOCATIVE relations (such as
this weeks hottest news and Londons highest building) can be expressed at all within PNPs and, if so, to
what extent.
Finally, in many languages, PNPs are not restricted
to cases in which the possessors can be seen as reference point entities, or anchors for identification of the
heads referent. In addition, a more or less similar
pattern is used for expressing non-anchoring relations, in which the nominal dependent is to classify,
describe, or qualify the class of entities denoted by
the head, e.g., MATERIAL, PURPOSE, or DURATION, as
shown for Georgian in Examples (6a) and (6b) (see
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, 2002):
(6a) pur-is
dana

breadGEN
knife.NOM
a/the knife bread

(6b) okro-s
be ed-i
gold-GEN ring-NOM
a/the golden ring
See also: Articles, Definite and Indefinite; Nominalization;
Nouns; Possession, External; Possession, Predicative.

Bibliography
Bickel B & Nichols J (2005a). Locus of marking in possessive noun phrases. In Dryer M, Haspelmath M, Comrie
B & Gil D (eds.) The world atlas of language structures.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. 102105.
Bickel B & Nichols J (2005b). Possessive classification. In
Dryer M, Haspelmath M, Comrie B & Gil D (eds.)
The world atlas of language structure. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. 242245.
Dryer M (1992). The Greenbergian word order correlations. Language 68(1), 81138.
Dryer M (2005). Order of genitive and noun. In Dryer M,
Haspelmath M, Comrie B & Gil D (eds.) The world atlas
of language structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
350353.
Fraurud K (1990). Definiteness and the processing of noun
phrases in natural discourse. Journal of Semantics 7,
395433.
Greenberg J (1966). Some universals of grammar with
particular reference to the order of meaningful elements.
In Greenberg J (ed.) Universals of language. Cambridge,
MA: MIT. 73113.
Haiman J (1985). Natural syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Haspelmath M (1999). Explaining article-possessor complementarity: economic motivation in noun phrase syntax. Language 75(2), 227243.
Hawkins J A (1991). On (in)definite articles: implicatures
and (un)grammaticality prediction. Journal of Linguistics 27, 405442.
Heine B (1997). Possession. Cognitive sources, forces, and
grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm M (1996). Possessive NPs in Maltese:
alienability, iconicity and grammaticalization. In Borg A
& Plank F (eds.) The Maltese NP meets typology. Rivista
di linguistica 8.1. 245274.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm M (2002). Adnominal possession in
the European languages. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 55, 141172.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm M (2003a). Possessive noun phrases
in the languages of Europe. In Plank F (ed.) Noun phrase
structure in the languages of Europe. Berlin/New York:
Mouton de Gruyter. 621722.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm M (2003b). A woman of sin, a man of
duty and a hell of a mess: Non-determiner genitives in
Swedish. In Plank F (ed.) Noun phrase structure in the
languages of Europe. Berlin/New York: Mouton de
Gruyter. 515558.

Possession, Predicative 769


Langacker R W (1995). Possession and possessive constructions. In Taylor J R & MacLaury R E (eds.) Language and the cognitive construal of the world. Berlin/
New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 5179.
Lehmann C (1996). Possession in Yucatec Maya. Mu nchen/
Newcastle: Lincom.
Lichtenberk F (1983). Relational classifiers. Lingua 60,
147176.

Lyons C (1986). The syntax of English genitive constructions. Journal of Linguistics 22, 123143.
Plank F (ed.) (1995). Double case: agreement by suffixaufnahme. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pustejovsky J (1998). The generative lexicon. Cambridge,
MA/London: MIT Press.

Possession, Predicative
L Stassen, Radboud University, Nijmegen,
The Netherlands
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Predicative possession constructions can be defined as


those constructions in which the concept of possession (to be defined below) is expressed in the main
predication of a clause or sentence. In this, cases of predicative possession as in (1a) contrast with cases of
adnominal possession, as given in (1b) (from English):
(1a) John has a motorcycle
(1b) Johns motorcycle got stolen

It can be argued that, in both of these sentences, a


relation of possession is predicated between an entity that is specified as the possessor (John) and an
entity that is specified as the possessed (motorcycle).
However, it is only in the first of these sentences that
this relation of possession is construed as the main
predication.
The typology of predicative possession has been
addressed in recent literature by several authors, notably Locker (1954), Clark (1978), Seiler (1983),
Lizotte (1983), and Heine (1997). Although these
authors differed somewhat in their approaches and
in the range of phenomena that they discussed, a consensus opinion was that the notion of possession is
in itself complex. To be specific, possession appears
to define a cognitive space or cognitive domain,
which must be subdivided into three semantically
cognate, but nonetheless separate subdomains. It can
be argued that these three subdomains are in fact
the results of differences in settings on two more
general cognitive/semantic parameters, viz., time
stability (Givo n, 1984) and control (Hopper and
Thompson, 1980). Thus, we can distinguish between
(1) inalienable possession, (2) alienable possession,
and (3) temporary possession.
1. In inalienable possession, the relation between
the possessor and the possessed object is [ time

stable] and [ control]. In this case, the relation between the possessor (PR) and the possessed entity
(PD) can be said to hold for an unspecified (and
presumably quite extended) stretch of time. However,
the PR cannot, in general, be said to be in control of
the PD; that is, the PR has not the power or the
authority to decide on the whereabouts of the PD.
Languages vary as to which possessive relationships
they choose to encode as inalienable, but the core of
this subdomain seems to belong to kinship relations,
and part-whole relations, such as between a body and
its parts. Other relations often encountered
in inalienable possessive constructions are social relations (friend, leader, name), implements of material
culture (bow, pet, canoe, clothing), or agents and
objects of actions (see Seiler, 1983).
2. In alienable possession, the relation between possessor and possessed object must be characterized as
[ time stable] and [ control]. In this case, the PR is
in control of the PD, and the possessive relation is seen
as unspecified as to time length. Roughly speaking, this
is the domain of ownership in a narrow judicial or
ethical sense; it comprises those cases in which the possessive relation can be disrupted, transferred or given
up by acts of stealing, borrowing, selling or buying.
3. In temporary possession, the relation between
possessor and possessed object can be characterized
as [ time stable] and [ control]. Again, the PR is
in control of the PD in this case, but the possessive
relation is seen as short-term or accidental. This domain comprises relations that may be circumscribed
by phrases such as to have on ones person, to have at
ones disposal, or to carry with oneself. An English
example that strongly invites this temporary possessive reading would be something like Look out! Hes
got a knife!
Although there are languages like English, which
use, or can use, the same type of formal encoding for
all three subdomains, quite a few languages match
the semantic distinctions in the domain by different
formal encoding strategies. This fact has led several

Possession, External 773


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Comrie B (1989). Language universals and linguistic
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Givon T (1984). Syntax: a functional-typological introduction (vol. 1). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Haiman J (1980). The iconicity of grammar. Language 56,
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Heine B (1997). Possession: cognitive sources, forces and
grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University
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Studies.
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Celtic grammar. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Lizotte R J (1983). Universals concerning existence, possession and location sentences. Ph.D. diss., Brown
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Locker E (1954). Etre et avoir. Leurs expressions dans les
languages. Anthropos 49, 481510.

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Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Poppe N (1954). Grammar of written Mongolian. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Press I (1986). A grammar of modern Breton. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter.
Rabel L (1961). Khasi, a language of Assam. Baton Rouge:
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language. Tubingen: Narr.
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Clarendon Press.
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phrase conjunction. In Plank F (ed.) EUROTYP 9: Noun
phrase structure in the languages of Europe. Berlin:
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Stassen L (in preparation). Possession in language.
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Gruyter.

Possession, External
V Gast, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

External possession refers to a type of mapping from


semantic relations to syntactic functions in which the
possessor of a noun phrase does not form a constituent together with that noun phrase but is, instead,
encoded as a separate sentence-level constituent. As a
consequence, the (external) possessor is syntactically
understood as an argument of the main predicate
and semantically construed as a participant in the
situation described by that predicate. Such mapping
configurations have also been referred to as possessor raising or possessor ascension. External possession is opposed to (the default case of) adnominal
possession or internal possession, in which the
possessor is encoded as a sister constituent of the
possessum (e.g., I stepped on [Jacks [foot]]).
Typical instances of external possession are the socalled dativus sympatheticus in continental European

languages (see the Latin example in (1) from Plautus,


Rudens, 274) and applicative constructions in
which the verb agrees with the possessor of an object
rather than agreeing with the object itself (see (2)
from Tzotzil/Maya; Konig, 2001: 975). Sometimes,
double-subject constructions in Mandarin Chinese,
Korean, and Japanese are also regarded as instances
of external possession (see (3) from Japanese; Konig,
2001: 974).
(1) nunc tibi
amplectimur genua egentes opum
now you.DAT we.embrace knees needing help
now we embrace your knees, in need of help
(2) l-i-s-yaintas-be
COMPL1.ABS3.ERG-injure-APPL
he (has) injured my hand

h-kob
1.POSS-hand

(3) watashi-ga atama-ga


itai-tte
I-NOM
head-NOM
be.hurting-COMP
doushite
wakat-ta-no
how
guess-PERF-Q
how did you guess that I had a headache?

774 Possession, External

External possession is attested in all parts of the


world and in most of the major language families.
Languages without any clear instances of external
possessor constructions are Arabic, Finnish, Hindi,
Persian (Western Farsi), and Turkish, among others.
English allows external possession only exceptionally
(e.g., He looked her tenderly in the eyes). Languages
with external possessor constructions differ in
the conditions under which these constructions are
licensed or required. Such conditions relate to both
the syntactic and semantic properties of the relevant
sentences and their constituents. As far as structural
aspects are concerned, the syntactic function of the
possessum plays an important role: external possession is most commonly found when the possessum is a
direct or prepositional object, whereas it is restricted
most severely when the possessum is a transitive or
unergative subject. From a semantic point of view,
three major tendencies can be observed: (1) the susceptibility of a possessor to be encoded externally
correlates positively with its rank on the animacy

hierarchy, (2) external possessor constructions are


typically used when the semantic relationship holding
between the possessor and the possessum is intrinsic
and/or physical, and (3) external possession often
requires that the main predicate must describe a situation in which the possessor is (positively or negatively)
affected.

See also: Case; Possession, Adnominal; Possession,


Predicative.

Bibliography
Ko nig E (2001). Internal and external possessors. In
Haspelmath E, Ko nig E, Oesterreicher W & Raible W
(eds.) Language typology and language universals, vol. 2.
Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. 970978.
Payne D L & Barshi I (eds.) (1999). External possession.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Possible Worlds: Philosophical Theories


D Gregory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Anyone who reads contemporary philosophy will


soon encounter talk of possible worlds, and anybody
who delves a little deeper will quickly discover that
there are various conflicting philosophical accounts of
their nature. We consider those competing accounts,
but it is helpful to begin with a discussion of the ends
that possible worlds are commonly made to serve.
Possible worlds made their debut on the current
philosophical scene through Kripkes work on the
metamathematics of modal logics, but their current
ubiquity probably owes more to their relationships to
less esoteric matters. We commonly express claims
about what is possible by using statements that appear
to assert the existence of possibilities, for example, or
of ways things might have been. So, for instance,
somebody might assert, quite unexceptionably, that
theres a possibility that the world will end in the next
10 years.
That habit has striking affinities with one of the
characteristic principles concerning worlds, that what
is possible at a given world w is what obtains at some
world that is possible relative to w. Another central
principle invoking worlds relates to necessity: what is
necessary at a given world w is what holds at every

world that is possible relative to w. That last principle


in fact follows immediately from the previous one
(and vice versa) on the assumption that worlds are
complete, in the sense that each proposition is either
true at a given world or false at it.
The above theses may be interpreted in numerous
ways, depending upon how their talk of possibility,
necessity, and possible worlds is read. For instance,
the first principle can be construed as concerning the
physical possibilities at a given world whatever is
compatible with the fundamental physical nature of
that world so long as we restrict the worlds there
considered to those that are physically possible relative to the relevant possible world. And if we impose
that restriction upon the possible worlds cited in the
second principle, it can be treated as applying to
physical necessities.
Another central assumption involving possible
worlds is that one among them is the actual world, at
which precisely the actual truths obtain. That assumption combines with the various readings of the earlier
theses relating to possibility and necessity to yield
truth conditions for a wide variety of modal statements. So, for instance, it implies that it is actually
physically necessary that P just in case P is physically
necessary at the actual world. But the central hypothesis relating possible worlds to physical necessities
implies that P is physically necessary at the actual

Possession, Predicative 769


Langacker R W (1995). Possession and possessive constructions. In Taylor J R & MacLaury R E (eds.) Language and the cognitive construal of the world. Berlin/
New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 5179.
Lehmann C (1996). Possession in Yucatec Maya. Munchen/
Newcastle: Lincom.
Lichtenberk F (1983). Relational classifiers. Lingua 60,
147176.

Lyons C (1986). The syntax of English genitive constructions. Journal of Linguistics 22, 123143.
Plank F (ed.) (1995). Double case: agreement by suffixaufnahme. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pustejovsky J (1998). The generative lexicon. Cambridge,
MA/London: MIT Press.

Possession, Predicative
L Stassen, Radboud University, Nijmegen,
The Netherlands
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Predicative possession constructions can be defined as


those constructions in which the concept of possession (to be defined below) is expressed in the main
predication of a clause or sentence. In this, cases of predicative possession as in (1a) contrast with cases of
adnominal possession, as given in (1b) (from English):
(1a) John has a motorcycle
(1b) Johns motorcycle got stolen

It can be argued that, in both of these sentences, a


relation of possession is predicated between an entity that is specified as the possessor (John) and an
entity that is specified as the possessed (motorcycle).
However, it is only in the first of these sentences that
this relation of possession is construed as the main
predication.
The typology of predicative possession has been
addressed in recent literature by several authors, notably Locker (1954), Clark (1978), Seiler (1983),
Lizotte (1983), and Heine (1997). Although these
authors differed somewhat in their approaches and
in the range of phenomena that they discussed, a consensus opinion was that the notion of possession is
in itself complex. To be specific, possession appears
to define a cognitive space or cognitive domain,
which must be subdivided into three semantically
cognate, but nonetheless separate subdomains. It can
be argued that these three subdomains are in fact
the results of differences in settings on two more
general cognitive/semantic parameters, viz., time
stability (Givon, 1984) and control (Hopper and
Thompson, 1980). Thus, we can distinguish between
(1) inalienable possession, (2) alienable possession,
and (3) temporary possession.
1. In inalienable possession, the relation between
the possessor and the possessed object is [ time

stable] and [ control]. In this case, the relation between the possessor (PR) and the possessed entity
(PD) can be said to hold for an unspecified (and
presumably quite extended) stretch of time. However,
the PR cannot, in general, be said to be in control of
the PD; that is, the PR has not the power or the
authority to decide on the whereabouts of the PD.
Languages vary as to which possessive relationships
they choose to encode as inalienable, but the core of
this subdomain seems to belong to kinship relations,
and part-whole relations, such as between a body and
its parts. Other relations often encountered
in inalienable possessive constructions are social relations (friend, leader, name), implements of material
culture (bow, pet, canoe, clothing), or agents and
objects of actions (see Seiler, 1983).
2. In alienable possession, the relation between possessor and possessed object must be characterized as
[ time stable] and [ control]. In this case, the PR is
in control of the PD, and the possessive relation is seen
as unspecified as to time length. Roughly speaking, this
is the domain of ownership in a narrow judicial or
ethical sense; it comprises those cases in which the possessive relation can be disrupted, transferred or given
up by acts of stealing, borrowing, selling or buying.
3. In temporary possession, the relation between
possessor and possessed object can be characterized
as [ time stable] and [ control]. Again, the PR is
in control of the PD in this case, but the possessive
relation is seen as short-term or accidental. This domain comprises relations that may be circumscribed
by phrases such as to have on ones person, to have at
ones disposal, or to carry with oneself. An English
example that strongly invites this temporary possessive reading would be something like Look out! Hes
got a knife!
Although there are languages like English, which
use, or can use, the same type of formal encoding for
all three subdomains, quite a few languages match
the semantic distinctions in the domain by different
formal encoding strategies. This fact has led several

770 Possession, Predicative

(though not all) authors on the topic to single out one


of the subdomains as their focus of attention. In what
follows, the exposition will be restricted to typological aspects of the encoding of alienable possession.
This decision is in keeping with most authors on the
subject, which have (openly or tacitly) assumed that
alienable possession is somehow the protoypical case
of the possessive relationship.
Apart from semantic considerations, there are also
formal parameters that contribute to a further delineation of the domain of possession. First, there is
the distinction between predicative possession and
adnominal possession, as illustrated in (1). As said,
this article will deal with predicative possession only.
Second, within predicative alienable possession, it
often matters whether the noun phrase that indicates
the possessed item is indefinite or not. English is a
language in which this parameter gives rise to two
radically different encoding options:
(2a) John has a motorcycle
(2b) This motorcycle is Johns

In what follows, attention will be paid only to those


constructions in which the PD has an indefinite
reading. Again, this decision is in concord with the
practice to which most authors on the subject have
adhered.

Major Types of Predicative Possession


Authors on the typology of predicative (alienable)
possession do not agree fully on the number and the
nature of possessive encoding types. However, at least
five strategies are recognized by everybody, because
they are relatively frequent and clearly identifiable.
Among these five strategies, one stands apart, in
that it encodes the possessive relationship between
possessor and PD in the form of a transitive construction. In this Have-possessive, the possessor
NP and the PD function as the subject and direct
object of a have verb, which, in many cases, can be
shown to derive from some verb indicating physical
control or handling, such as take, grasp, hold, or
carry. The construction has a concentration in some
western branches of modern Indo-European, such as
Germanic, Romance, West and South Slavonic, modern Greek, and Albanian, as well as in some, though
not many, eastern Indo-European languages (Farsi).
Heine (1997) reported a number of Have-cases for
African language families, notably Gur and Khoisan.
Furthermore, the option appears to be the norm in the
Uto-Aztecan languages of Mexico. Apart from this,
however, Have-possessives are only incidental occurrences in linguistic families. Although most linguistic

groupings in the world allow a Have-strategy for at


least some of their members, it can be demonstrated
that in the large majority of genetic or areal language
groupings it is not the primary, or even a prominent,
encoding option for predicative alienable possession.
An example of the Have-possessive, from Albanian
(an Indo-European language) is:
(3) Une
kam
nje
1SING.NOM
have.1SING.PRES
INDEF
I have a pencil (Kacori, 1979: 30)

laps
pencil

Opposed to the Have-possessive, the other four major


types employ a strategy that is syntactically intransitive: the possessive construction has the basic form of
an existential sentence. Thus, all four types feature a
one-place predicate with a locational or existential
meaning: its usual translation can be something like
to be, to be there, to be present, or to exist. The
difference between them lies in the encoding of the
possessor NP and the possessed NP.
In the locational possessive, the possessed NP
functions as the grammatical subject of the existpredicate. The possessor NP (PR) is constructed in
some oblique case form, which has as its basic
meaning the specification of a locational relation.
Depending on the particular type of locational relation selected, it is possible to subcategorize this type
into locative possessive (with the PR being marked
by some item meaning at, on, or in) and dative
possessive (with a marker to or for on the PR). The
locational possessive is the prominent option in
Eurasia and Northern Africa, as well as in Polynesia
and the northern part of South America. A randomly
chosen example (from Mongolian, an Altaic language)
is:
(4) Na -dur morin bui
1SING-LOC
horse
be.3SING.PRES
I have a horse (Poppe, 1954: 147)

With the locational possessive, the topic possessive


shares the characteristic that the possessed NP is constructed as the grammatical subject of the existential
predicate. The distinguishing feature of the topic possessive lies in the encoding of the possessor NP, which
is constructed as the discourse topic of the sentence.
As such, the possessor NP indicates the setting or
background of the sentence that is, the discourse
frame that restricts the truth value of the sentence that
follows it. Its function can thus be circumscribed by
English phrases such as given X, as for X, with regard
to X, speaking about X, as far as X is concerned, and
the like. Topic-possessives show a concentration in
Southeast Asia, but the type is also found in West
and Northeast Africa, in Austronesian and Papuan

Possession, Predicative 771

languages, as well as in many Amerind language


groups. An example (from Tondano, a language of
the Philippines) is:
(5) Si

tuama si
wewean wale
rua
man
TOP
exist
house two
The man has two houses (Sneddon, 1975: 175)
AN.SING

With the two other intransitive possessive types, the


conjunctional possessive shares the feature of containing an existential predicate. In other respects,
however, the conjunctional possessive contrasts with
both the locational possessive and the topic possessive. For a start, the conjunctional possessive constructs the possessor NP as the grammatical subject.
An even more conspicuous feature is the encoding of
the possessed NP. In the conjunctional possessive, this
NP is accompanied by, and usually in construction
with, a marker that can be analyzed neither as a
locational item nor as an indicator of topics. Closer
inspection reveals that this marker in all cases originates from an item which is, or at least has been,
employed as a means to indicate simultaneity between clauses. Thus, we find markers that have their
origin in a sentential adverb meaning also or too, in a
subordinating conjunction when/while, or in a coordinating particle and. A prominent option within the
conjunctional possessive is the use of the comitative
marker with on the possessed NP, which is why
the type is often referred to as the With-possessive
in the literature. It can be argued, however, that languages that employ this comitative marker on possessed NPs also use this marker as a means to
coordinate NPs (see Stassen, 1999), so that this
With-strategy can be seen as a special case of a more
general conjunctional encoding format. Concentrations of the conjunctional possessive are found in
sub-Saharan Africa and in Eastern Austronesian and
Papuan languages. Examples include:
(6) From Daga (Papuan, South-East):
Orup da
agoe den
man
one slave with/too
a man had a slave (Murane, 1974: 303)
(7) From Sango (Niger-Kordofanian, Ubangian):
Lo
eke na
bongo
3SING be
and/with garment
he/she has a garment (Samarin, 1967: 95)

In addition to these four basic types, most authors


on the subject distinguish a fifth strategy, which may
be called the genitive possessive. The genitive possessive shares features with both the locational possessive and the topic possessive, in that the possessed NP
is constructed as the grammatical subject of an existential predicate. The defining feature of the genitive

possessive is the encoding of the possessor NP, which


is constructed as an adnominal modifier to the possessed NP. Depending on the strategy that the language has for the encoding of such adnominal
possessive NPs, the genitive possessive may involve
dependent marking on the possessor NP (as in Avar),
head marking on the possessed NP by means of a pronominal affix (as in Tzutujil), both head marking and
dependent marking (as in Turkish), or no marking at
all (as in Lahu):
(8) From Avar (Dagestanian):
Dir
masina b-ugo
1SING.GEN car
III-be.PRES
I have a car (Elena Kalinina, p.c.)
(9) From Eastern Tzutujil (Mayan):
Ko
jun
ruu-keej
n -ata?
exist a
his-horse my-father
my father has a horse (Dayley, 1981:
200)
(10) From Turkish (Altaic, Turkic):
Mehmed-in
para -si
var
Mehmed-GEN money-his exist
Mehmed has money (Lewis, 1967: 251)
(11) From Lahu (Sino-Tibetan, Burman):
Yo-hi ca-tu ma
co`
3PL
food
NEG
exist
they have no food (Matisoff, 1973: 385)

There are, however, indications that these cases of


genitival possession are in fact cases of reanalysis
from the locative possessive or the topic possessive, so
that they do not have to be considered as a separate
encoding type (Stassen, in preparation).

Transitivization
A number of languages exhibit constructions that
cannot be classified straightforwardly in terms of
any of the basic types. Closer inspection reveals that
these cases can be rated as the results of several grammaticalization processes. The first of these processes
might be called transitivization or Have-drift, as
it consists in a process of drifting toward a Havepossessive from one of the other three basic types.
Cases of Have-drift from an erstwhile conjunctional
possessive commonly involve the cliticization or
incorporation of the conjunctional marker into the
existential predicate; the newly formed predicate then
acts as a transitive verb. An example (from Ganda,
a Northeast Bantu language) is:
(12) O
-li -na
ekitabo
2SING-be-with book
you have a book (Ashton et al., 1954: 234)

772 Possession, Predicative

Have-drift from topic possessives commonly involves


the reanalysis of the existential be item as a transitive
verb and the reanalysis of the possessor NP and possessed NP as the subject and direct object of that verb.
The process is helped along by the fact that, in the
typical case, this be item occupied the canonical position of transitive verbs in the original possessive construction. An example of this form of Have-drift is
given in (13) (in Kha si, from the Mon-Khmer family).
That the process is gradual and involves various intermediate stages can be seen from the Luisen o sentences in (14): here the reanalysis of the erstwhile
topic into subject seems to be under way, but the
construction is not fully transitive yet.
(13) Nga
don
ka
jaa saw
1SING have/exist ART red cloth
I have a red cloth (Rabel, 1961: 139)
(14a) Noo -p
no -toonav qala
1SING-TOP my-basket
be.INAN.PRES
I have a basket (Steele, 1977: 114)
(14b) Noo -n
no -toonav qala
1SING-SUBJ my-basket
be.INAN.PRES
I have a basket (Steele, 1977: 122)

Instances of Have-drift from locational possessives


are not very frequent. Comrie (1989: 219225)
reported a case from Maltese, with an intermediate
stage in which the possessor NP was topicalized.
A similar process must have taken place in the Celtic
languages Breton (see Press, 1986: 139) and Cornish
(15):
(15a) Ancow a -s
byth
death
to-2SING be.3SING.FUT
you will have death: you will die (Lewis and
Pedersen, 1974: 211)
(15b) Why
a-s
byth
ancow
2SING.NOM to-2sing be.3SING.FUT death
(Lewis and Pedersen, 1974: 211)
(15c) An tekter
a-s
betheugh
ART beauty
to-2SING be.2SING.DEP
why
2SING.NOM
the beauty which you will have (Lewis and
Pedersen, 1974: 211)

It is tempting to view the phenomenon of Have-drift


as being motivated by iconicity (Haiman, 1980). After
all, the relation between PR and PD is fairly high
in transitivity (Hopper and Thompson, 1980). In particular, possession implies a high degree of control
of the possessor over the possessed item. Hence, languages may evolve to a situation in which this semantic transitivity is matched by formal transitivity;
and the only major possessive type that is formally
transitive is the Have-possessive.

Adjectivalization
In some linguistic areas, we find possessive constructions in which the PD is constructed as the predicate
(or part of the predicate) and treated in the same way
as predicative adjectives are treated. Thus, depending
on whether predicative adjectives are nouny or
verby (Wetzer, 1996; Stassen, 1997), the possessed
NP shows up as (part of the) complement of the
copula, or as (the lexical core of) a predicative verb.
Examples include:
(16) From Tiwi (Australian, Tiwi):
awa mantani teraka
our
friend
wallaby
our friend has a wallaby (Osborne, 1974: 60)
(17) From Central Kanuri (Nilo-Saharan, Saharan):
Kam kura-te ku gena-nze-wa
(genyi)
man big -the money -his-ADJ/with (NEG.COP)
the big man has (no) money (Cyffer, 1974: 122)

(18) From Guajaja ra (Tupi):


I
-mukaw
3SING-gun
he has a gun (Bendor-Samuel, 1972: 162)
(19) From Yukaghir (Yukaghir):
Met
e
-n -je
reindeer-with-1SING.PRES.INDEF.INTRANS
1SING.NOM
I have (a) reindeer (Jochelson, 1905: 405)

Cases like these are probably best viewed as the


results of a grammaticalization process by which the
possessed NP (together with its marker, if it has one)
is gradually reanalyzed as the predicate of the construction. Depending on whether the possessed NP
carries a marker or not, the source of such products of
adjectivalization can be traced back to a conjunctional possessive or a topic possessive. The process of
adjectivalization may well be fostered by the fact
that in the relevant languages, the existential verb is
either zero or identical to the copula.

See also: Possession, Adnominal; Transitivity: Stylistic


Approaches.

References
Ashton E O et al. (1954). Luganda grammar. London:
Longmans, Green & Co.
Bendor-Samuel D (1972). Hierarchical structures in Guajajara. Norman, OK: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
Budina Lazdina T (1966). Teach yourself Latvian. London:
The English Universities Press.
Clark E V (1978). Locationals: existential. Locative and
possessive constructions. In Greenberg J, Ferguson C &

Possession, External 773


Moravcsik E (eds.) Universals of human language 4:
Syntax. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 86126.
Comrie B (1989). Language universals and linguistic
typology (2nd edn.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Cyffer N (1974). Syntax des Kanuri. Hamburg: Helmut
Buske.
Dayley J P (1981). Tzutujil grammar. Ph.D. diss., University
of California at Berkeley.
Givo n T (1984). Syntax: a functional-typological introduction (vol. 1). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Haiman J (1980). The iconicity of grammar. Language 56,
515540.
Heine B (1997). Possession: cognitive sources, forces and
grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Hopper P J & Thompson S (1980). Transitivity in grammar
and discourse. Language 56, 251299.
Jochelson W (1905). Essay on the grammar of the Yukaghir language. American Anthropologist 7(2), 369424.
Kacori T (1979). A handbook of Albanian. Sofia: Sofia
University Kliment Ohridski, Faculty of Slavonic
Studies.
Lewis L (1967). Turkish grammar. Oxford: Clarendon
Press.
Lewis H & Pedersen H (1974). A concise comparative
Celtic grammar. Go ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Lizotte R J (1983). Universals concerning existence, possession and location sentences. Ph.D. diss., Brown
University.
Locker E (1954). E tre et avoir. Leurs expressions dans les
languages. Anthropos 49, 481510.

Matisoff J A (1973). The grammar of Lahu. Berkeley/Los


Angeles: University of California Press.
Murane E (1974). Daga grammar. Norman, OK: Summer
Institute of Linguistics.
Osborne C R (1974). The Tiwi language. Canberra:
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Poppe N (1954). Grammar of written Mongolian. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.
Press I (1986). A grammar of modern Breton. Berlin: Mouton
de Gruyter.
Rabel L (1961). Khasi, a language of Assam. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State University Press.
Samarin W J (1967). A grammar of Sango. The Hague:
Mouton.
Seiler H (1983). Possession as an operational dimension of
language. Tu bingen: Narr.
Sneddon J N (1975). Tondano phonology and grammar.
Canberra: The Australian National University.
Stassen L (1997). Intransitive predication. Oxford:
Clarendon Press.
Stassen L (1999). Some universal characteristics of noun
phrase conjunction. In Plank F (ed.) EUROTYP 9: Noun
phrase structure in the languages of Europe. Berlin:
Mouton De Gruyter.
Stassen L (in preparation). Possession in language.
Steele S (1977). On being possessed. In Proceedings of the
3rd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society.
Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society. 114131.
Wetzer H (1996). Nouniness and verbiness: a typological study of adjectival predication. Berlin: Mouton De
Gruyter.

Possession, External
V Gast, Free University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

External possession refers to a type of mapping from


semantic relations to syntactic functions in which the
possessor of a noun phrase does not form a constituent together with that noun phrase but is, instead,
encoded as a separate sentence-level constituent. As a
consequence, the (external) possessor is syntactically
understood as an argument of the main predicate
and semantically construed as a participant in the
situation described by that predicate. Such mapping
configurations have also been referred to as possessor raising or possessor ascension. External possession is opposed to (the default case of) adnominal
possession or internal possession, in which the
possessor is encoded as a sister constituent of the
possessum (e.g., I stepped on [Jacks [foot]]).
Typical instances of external possession are the socalled dativus sympatheticus in continental European

languages (see the Latin example in (1) from Plautus,


Rudens, 274) and applicative constructions in
which the verb agrees with the possessor of an object
rather than agreeing with the object itself (see (2)
from Tzotzil/Maya; Ko nig, 2001: 975). Sometimes,
double-subject constructions in Mandarin Chinese,
Korean, and Japanese are also regarded as instances
of external possession (see (3) from Japanese; Ko nig,
2001: 974).
(1) nunc tibi
amplectimur genua egentes opum
now you.DAT we.embrace knees needing help
now we embrace your knees, in need of help
(2) l-i-s-yaintas-be
COMPL1.ABS3.ERG-injure-APPL
he (has) injured my hand

h-kob
1.POSS-hand

(3) watashi-ga atama-ga


itai-tte
I-NOM
head-NOM
be.hurting-COMP
doushite
wakat-ta-no
how
guess-PERF-Q
how did you guess that I had a headache?

774 Possession, External

External possession is attested in all parts of the


world and in most of the major language families.
Languages without any clear instances of external
possessor constructions are Arabic, Finnish, Hindi,
Persian (Western Farsi), and Turkish, among others.
English allows external possession only exceptionally
(e.g., He looked her tenderly in the eyes). Languages
with external possessor constructions differ in
the conditions under which these constructions are
licensed or required. Such conditions relate to both
the syntactic and semantic properties of the relevant
sentences and their constituents. As far as structural
aspects are concerned, the syntactic function of the
possessum plays an important role: external possession is most commonly found when the possessum is a
direct or prepositional object, whereas it is restricted
most severely when the possessum is a transitive or
unergative subject. From a semantic point of view,
three major tendencies can be observed: (1) the susceptibility of a possessor to be encoded externally
correlates positively with its rank on the animacy

hierarchy, (2) external possessor constructions are


typically used when the semantic relationship holding
between the possessor and the possessum is intrinsic
and/or physical, and (3) external possession often
requires that the main predicate must describe a situation in which the possessor is (positively or negatively)
affected.

See also: Case; Possession, Adnominal; Possession,


Predicative.

Bibliography
Konig E (2001). Internal and external possessors. In
Haspelmath E, Konig E, Oesterreicher W & Raible W
(eds.) Language typology and language universals, vol. 2.
Berlin and New York: Walter de Gruyter. 970978.
Payne D L & Barshi I (eds.) (1999). External possession.
Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Possible Worlds: Philosophical Theories


D Gregory, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Anyone who reads contemporary philosophy will


soon encounter talk of possible worlds, and anybody
who delves a little deeper will quickly discover that
there are various conflicting philosophical accounts of
their nature. We consider those competing accounts,
but it is helpful to begin with a discussion of the ends
that possible worlds are commonly made to serve.
Possible worlds made their debut on the current
philosophical scene through Kripkes work on the
metamathematics of modal logics, but their current
ubiquity probably owes more to their relationships to
less esoteric matters. We commonly express claims
about what is possible by using statements that appear
to assert the existence of possibilities, for example, or
of ways things might have been. So, for instance,
somebody might assert, quite unexceptionably, that
theres a possibility that the world will end in the next
10 years.
That habit has striking affinities with one of the
characteristic principles concerning worlds, that what
is possible at a given world w is what obtains at some
world that is possible relative to w. Another central
principle invoking worlds relates to necessity: what is
necessary at a given world w is what holds at every

world that is possible relative to w. That last principle


in fact follows immediately from the previous one
(and vice versa) on the assumption that worlds are
complete, in the sense that each proposition is either
true at a given world or false at it.
The above theses may be interpreted in numerous
ways, depending upon how their talk of possibility,
necessity, and possible worlds is read. For instance,
the first principle can be construed as concerning the
physical possibilities at a given world whatever is
compatible with the fundamental physical nature of
that world so long as we restrict the worlds there
considered to those that are physically possible relative to the relevant possible world. And if we impose
that restriction upon the possible worlds cited in the
second principle, it can be treated as applying to
physical necessities.
Another central assumption involving possible
worlds is that one among them is the actual world, at
which precisely the actual truths obtain. That assumption combines with the various readings of the earlier
theses relating to possibility and necessity to yield
truth conditions for a wide variety of modal statements. So, for instance, it implies that it is actually
physically necessary that P just in case P is physically
necessary at the actual world. But the central hypothesis relating possible worlds to physical necessities
implies that P is physically necessary at the actual

Possible Worlds: Philosophical Theories 775

world just in case P holds at every world that is


physically possible relative to the actual world.
The various theses just considered are perhaps the
least contentious principles featuring possible worlds
(another, more contentious but widely accepted use
for worlds is in providing truth conditions for counterfactual conditionals, like if tigers had 10 legs they
would be cumbersome). Elsewhere, contention is
the order of the day. Thus some philosophers, like
David Lewis, have claimed that possible worlds can
be used to provide thoroughly nonmodal analyses
of modal claims. But others, like Alvin Plantinga, have
disagreed. And some philosophers Lewis again, for
instance hope to reduce propositions to classes of
worlds, whereas others prefer to follow Robert Adams
and Arthur Prior in identifying possible worlds with
special sorts of propositions, or with set-theoretical
constructions based upon propositions.
There is disagreement, then, over what it is reasonable to expect from possible worlds that is, over
what we can sensibly hope to use them for. Those
differences are echoed in the varying theories of what
possible worlds are. For it is commonly held that the
concept of a possible world is a functional one: possible worlds are those things that are fit to play certain
roles in philosophical theorizing about modality and
related matters. But if one philosopher thinks a certain range of roles should be filled by possible
worlds, while another believes that worlds should
serve a somewhat different range of roles, their accounts of which things are possible worlds may
consequently diverge simply because the two philosophers have focused on groups of jobs that call for
different occupants.
At one end of the spectrum, Lewis attempted to
make possible worlds perform an extraordinarily ambitious range of tasks (for a comprehensive outline of
Lewiss views on possible worlds, see Lewis, 1986).
Lewis claimed that a possible world is a group of
things that are all spatiotemporally related to one
another and where each thing that is spatiotemporally related to something in the group is also among its
occupants. So, for instance, the actual world contains
precisely those things that stand in a spatiotemporal
relation to you or me.
Lewis used his nonmodal account of the nature of
possible worlds to provide wholly nonmodal analyses
of modal locutions. He also followed the common
practice of using talk of possible worlds in formal semantical treatments of fragments of natural language.
And he identified numerous types of entities that philosophers and nonphilosophers have posited, such
as properties and propositions, with set-theoretical
constructions founded on possible worlds and their
inhabitants. Another important aspect of Lewiss

position is his denial that distinct possible worlds


ever share any inhabitants. This led him to develop
counterpart theory, according to which a statement
regarding a certain individual belonging to a given
possible world w Kant had a beard, for instance
is true in another possible world y just in case y
contains a bearded entity that is sufficiently similar
to Kant.
Although Lewis argued with great virtuosity that
his putative possible worlds would perform the
various tasks that he considered and that we ought
therefore to believe that his worlds exist, some of
his theorys obvious consequences are so implausible
that few people have been willing to accept his conclusions. For instance, there might have been talking
donkeys. So, Lewis claimed, there is a group of
spatiotemporally interrelated items that includes a
talking donkey. Hence, a talking donkey exists even
if none actually exists that is, a talking donkey exists
even if we do not stand in any spatiotemporal relations to such a beast.
Lewis placed great emphasis upon his theorys provision of nonmodal analyses of modal locutions and
argued that none of his views major competitors
could also provide them. But some of his opponents
would distance themselves from Lewiss reductionist
aims. Indeed, a significant lacuna in Lewiss case for
his position is that he never provided a compelling
account of why we should want nonmodal analyses
of modal locutions. For unless one is already persuaded of the desirability of such analyses, one of the chief
supposed virtues that Lewis claimed for his stance
seems instead to be a mere curiosity.
Following van Inwagen (1986), Lewiss theory may
be described as concretist, because his possible worlds
and their inhabitants are concrete rather than abstract. Lewiss view thus contrasted with the preponderance of accounts of possible worlds, on which
possible worlds are identified with paradigmatically
abstract items of some kind or another. For example,
Adams (1974) identified possible worlds with special
sets of propositions where propositions were assumed
to be a variety of abstract object; Plantinga (1974)
identified possible worlds with a certain type of states
of affairs, another putative type of abstract item; and
Stalnaker (1976) identified worlds with a particular
variety of ways things might have been, which he
took to be a sort of property.
Theorists who identify possible worlds with abstract entities abstractionists, to use some more of
van Inwagens terminology need not endorse highly
revisionary views concerning what concrete objects
exist. That fact makes their general approach more
immediately appealing than Lewiss concretism. Of
course, if abstractionists are to respect our ordinary

776 Possible Worlds: Philosophical Theories

modal opinions, they must still posit very many abstract objects; each total possible state of the world
should correspond to a possible world. But we appear
to accept that the abstract domain is immensely populous (we seem to believe in infinite collections of
numbers, for instance), and that fact may make us
jib less, perhaps irrationally, at the hefty ontologies
that abstractionists require as compared to equally
large concretist ontologies.
Abstractionists nonetheless have some work to do if
they are to make the ontological foundations of their
theories credible. Russells discovery that the guiding
principles of naive set theory are inconsistent showed
that one cannot be assured that there really are abstract items answering to every intuitively appealing
map of a portion of the abstract realm. Abstractionists therefore need to persuade us that the abstract
things with which they identify possible worlds exist.
To take a specific case, why should we believe in
the abstract states of affairs that Plantinga equates
with possible worlds? At the least, Plantinga should
present a strong case that the conception of states
of affairs that underlies his approach is consistent.
Similar remarks apply to the other abstractionists
mentioned earlier, Adams and Stalnaker.
As stated earlier in this article, Lewis argued that
abstractionist accounts of possible worlds cannot
provide nonmodal analyses of modal statements.
So what can abstractionists do with their putative
possible worlds? They can use them to supply truth
conditions for many modal claims, for one thing,
although those truth conditions may not be stated
nonmodally. (On Adamss theory, for instance, the
supplied truth conditions will speak of consistent
sets of propositions). And they can provide interpretations of those philosophical discussions, which,
rather than address the question of what possible
worlds are, instead take possible worlds for granted
and proceed to frame modal arguments and theses
by speaking of them. While those tasks may seem
trifling when compared to the more spectacular reductionist uses for possible worlds proposed by
Lewis, they should not be dismissed as noted at
the outset, the spread of possible worlds through
recent philosophy is, after all, owed to their use in
precisely those ways and not to a widespread conviction that the modal ultimately boils down to the
nonmodal.
An apparently simple method, described clearly
by Lewis at various points in his writings, has very
often guided philosophical investigations into the
nature of possible worlds: one lines up the various
contending accounts; one then compares their costs
and benefits; and one opts for the position that comes
out best overall. But although that methodology looks

straightforward, its correct application requires a


prior determination of philosophical virtues and vices,
and the latter task is not trivial. So, for instance, how
are to decide whether Lewiss nonmodal theory of
possible worlds should be preferred on that account
to the modal theories frequently offered by abstractionists? And how are we to adjudicate the sometimes
competing demands of commonsense modal opinion
and theoretical elegance?
Those and similar questions have perhaps been a
little neglected by philosophers of modality, and further investigation into their answers might breathe
life into a debate that has lately looked somewhat
stalled. Accounts of possible worlds proliferate, but
attempts to figure out what precisely we should demand from such theories are surprisingly scarce. This
would be understandable if the discussion were to
manifest a high degree of well-grounded consensus
on the underlying desiderata, but that condition is
evidently unsatisfied: what looks like a philosophical
imperative to one philosopher the need to avoid
modal primitives of one kind or another, say, or
to ensure that first-order modal logic has certain inferential features can often appear a mere fetish
to another. Of course, it may be that the current
debate merely reflects the fact that we cannot realistically aim for wholly satisfying answers to the sort
of questions just identified; but that prognosis is a
dismaying one that we should not lightly accept.
See also: Counterfactuals; Formal Semantics; Modal
Logic; Montague Semantics.

Bibliography
Adams R M (1974). Theories of actuality. Nous 8,
211231. [Reprinted in Loux (1979).]
Divers J (2002). Possible worlds. London: Routledge.
Forbes G (1985). The metaphysics of modality. Oxford:
Clarendon Press.
Hughes G E & Cresswell M (1996). A new introduction to
modal logic. London: Routledge.
Kripke S (1980). Naming and necessity. Oxford: Blackwell.
Lewis D (1986). On the plurality of worlds. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Loux M J (ed.) (1979). The possible and the actual. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press.
Plantinga A (1974). The nature of necessity. Oxford:
Clarendon.
Prior A N & Fine K (1977). Worlds, times and selves.
London: Duckworth.
Rosen G (1990). Modal fictionalism. Mind 99, 327354.
Stalnaker R (1976). Possible worlds. Nous 10, 6575.
[Reprinted in Loux (1979).]
van Inwagen P (1986). Two concepts of possible worlds.
Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11, 185213.

Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications 777

Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications


E Semino, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Possible Worlds from Logic to the


Semantics of Fiction
The notion of possible worlds, which can be traced
back to the 17th century German philosopher
Leibniz, has been used by philosophers and logicians
since the late 1950s to deal with some central logical
issues (including particularly the modal properties of
propositions). As long as logic took the actual world
as its only frame of reference, it was difficult to account for the differences in the truth values of
the propositions expressed by statements such as the
following: (1) The earth has one moon, (2) The earth
has no moon, (3) The earth has one moon and
the earth does not have one moon. Clearly, (1) is
true in relation to what we know about the actual
world, while (2) and (3) are not. However, (2)
describes an alternative state of affairs that could
apply to a world that differs from our actual world
in some aspects of the solar system, while (3)
describes a contradictory state of affairs, so that
it cannot apply to a conceivable alternative to the
actual world. Logicians account for these differences by adopting as their frame of reference a system
where the actual world is surrounded by an infinite
number of possible worlds. These possible worlds
are alternative sets of states of affairs that may differ
from the actual world in an infinite number of ways.
However, to qualify as possible, these worlds cannot
violate the laws of mathematics (e.g., that 2 2 4)
and the logical laws of non-contradiction (two contradictory propositions cannot be true at the same
time) and of the excluded middle (given two contradictory propositions, one has to be true in a given
world). Within this approach, the proposition
expressed by (1) above is possibly true, because it is
true in the actual world but may be false in a possible world; the proposition expressed by (2) is possibly
false, because it is false in the actual world but may be
true in a possible world; and the proposition
expressed by (3) is necessarily false, because as a
logical contradiction it cannot be true in any logically
possible world (see Bradley and Swartz, 1979; Divers,
2002; Kripke, 1971). Philosophers and logicians who
adopt a possible-worlds approach often differ quite
sharply, however, in their view of the ontological
status of possible worlds in relation to the actual
world (see Divers, 2002; Lewis, 1986).
The adoption of a possible-worlds approach in
philosophy made it possible to deal adequately

with the propositions expressed by sentences in fiction (e.g., Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the
flowers herself), and about fiction (e.g., Othello
killed Desdemona), which had previously been
regarded as false or anomalous (see Dolezel, 1998:
2; Pavel, 1986: 11). The truth values of such sentences
can be determined not in relation to the actual world,
but in relation to the possible world projected by a
particular text, such as Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway or Shakespeares Othello. The adoption of a
possible-worlds approach within the semantics of fiction, therefore, better accounts for the intuitions
of ordinary readers, or, as Eco (1990: 64) puts it,
reconcile[s] common sense with the rights of alethic
logic. Since the late 1970s, some important work in
narratology and literary theory has resulted from
the application of the notion of possible worlds
to the study of literature and fiction (see Allen,
1989; Dolezel, 1998; Eco, 1979, 1990; Maitre,
1983; Martnez-Bonati, 1981; Pavel, 1986; Ronen,
1994; Ryan, 1991; Wolterstoff, 1980). After all, as
Dolezel (1998: ix) has pointed out, [l]iterary fiction
is probably the most active experimental laboratory
of the world-constructing enterprise.
The possible worlds of fiction, however, are quite
different from the possible worlds of logic. The latter
are usually defined as maximal, complete, and abstract sets of states of affairs, which are postulated
for the purposes of logical reasoning. In contrast, the
worlds of fiction have the following characteristics:
. They are projected by texts, and are therefore best
described as semiotic or cultural constructs (e.g.,
Dolezel, 1998: 2324; Eco, 1979: 220221;
Ronen, 1994: 48);
. They are furnished, i.e., they are inhabited by specific entities and individuals, who are involved in
specific events and states of affairs (e.g., Eco, 1990:
65; Ronen, 1994: 60);
. They are incomplete, i.e., they do not assign truth
values to every conceivable proposition (e.g., it is
not possible to determine the number of
Lady Macbeths children in Shakespeares play)
(e.g., Dolezel, 1998: 22; Wolterstoff, 1980: 131);
. They are parasitical in relation to the actual world:
unless otherwise indicated, we assume that what is
the case in the actual world also applies in fictional
worlds (i.e., we assume that Hamlet has two legs
even if this is not mentioned in Shakespeares play)
(e.g., Eco, 1990: 75; see also Ryans (1991: 48)
Principle of Minimal Departure and Telemans
(1989) Principle of Isomorphism);
. They can be semantically unhomogeneous, i.e.,
they may include different domains governed by

778 Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications

different laws, such as a natural and a supernatural


sphere (Dolez el, 1998: 23; Pavel, 1986: 61);
. They can be logically impossible, i.e., they may
include internal contradictions: in Robbe-Grillets
La Maison de Rendez-vous, for example, a particular location both is and is not the setting of the
narrated events in the novel (e.g., Dolez el, 1998:
163; Eco, 1979: 233234; Ronen, 1994: 55).
The adoption of the notion of possible worlds in
narratology and fictional semantics has led to
advances in a number of areas that are highly relevant
to the study of literary texts in general. These include
particularly the definition of fiction, the development
of typologies of fictional worlds and genres, the study
of the internal structure of fictional worlds, and the
study of plot. Much attention has also been devoted
to postmodernist literature in particular. Each of
these areas will be considered in turn.

least partly been shaped by Balzacs works (see also


Maitre, 1983: 53).
Possible-world theorists do not always explicitly
distinguish between fiction and literature, however,
which may in some cases lead to imprecision or confusion. Both concepts are highly complex and fuzzy,
but it is important to recognize that not all texts that
are regarded as literary are also fictional (e.g., Mary
Wollstonecrafts essays on women rights), and, vice
versa, not all fictional texts are also regarded as literary (e.g., jokes, or nonverbal fiction such as ballets).
However, there is a considerable overlap between
what we regard as literary and what we regard as
fictional, especially in some of the most prototypical
instantiations of both categories, such as novels for
example (see Ronen, 1994: 82; Ryan, 1991: 13;
Semino, 1997: 6870).

Typologies of Fictional Worlds


The Definition of Fiction
The distinction between the actual world and an
infinite number of alternative possible worlds provides the theoretical foundation for a distinction
between fictional and nonfictional texts and genres.
Some possible-worlds theorists define fiction in
relation to readers perceptions of the world that
is projected by a particular text: If the world presented by a text is compatible with the readers view
of the actual world, they will regard the text as nonfictional; if, on the other hand, the world presented by
a text clashes with the readers view of the actual
world, they will regard the text as fictional (Eco,
1979: 20; Maitre, 1983: 36). Other possible-world
theorists define fiction in relation to the particular
way in which worlds are projected by authors via
their texts (Wolterstoff, 1980; Ryan, 1991). Ryan
(1991: 21), in particular, sees the production of fiction as a type of gesture, whereby text producers shift
the relevant frame of reference from a system centered on the actual world to a system centered on an
alternative possible world. She therefore argues that:
nonfictional texts describe a system of reality whose
center is occupied by the actually actual world; fictional
ones refer to a system whose actual world is from
an absolute point of view an APW [i.e., an alternate
possible world] (Ryan, 1991: 24).

These definitions of fiction do not deny, however,


that the products of fiction-making can be deeply
relevant to actual-world concerns, or, indeed, to our
view of the actual world itself. Pavel (1986: 106)
argues, for example, that in some very significant
respects our image of 19th-century France has at

An important contribution of possible-world


approaches has been to develop ways of classifying
fictional worlds according to their relationship with
the actual world. This often results in the development of typologies of literary genres that tend to
project different kinds of text worlds.
Maitre (1983), for example, has proposed a typology of the worlds of narrative fiction that depends on
the degree of distance between the projected text
world and the actual world. As far as realistic fiction
is concerned, she distinguishes between novels that
make references to specific historical events (e.g.,
Tolstoys War and Peace) and novels that deal with
imaginary but entirely plausible states of affairs (e.g.,
David Lodges campus novel). As far as fantastic
fiction is concerned, Maitre distinguishes between
worlds that could never be actual (e.g., those of
fairy stories) and worlds that are highly implausible
but that could potentially be actual (e.g., those of
James Bond novels).
Dolez el (1976; 1998: 113) distinguishes among
four types of basic atomic stories, which are formed
around one of four different modalities: stories based
on the alethic modal system of possibility, impossibility, and necessity project worlds that violate the natural laws of physical possibility (e.g., fairytales and
ancient myths); stories based on the deontic system
of prohibition, permission, and obligation project
worlds dominated by moral laws which may be
respected or violated (e.g., Dostoevskys Crime and
Punishment); stories based on the axiological system
of goodness and badness project worlds in which
characters pursue their own quests or desires (e.g.,
romantic novels); and stories based on the epistemic

Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications 779

system of knowledge, ignorance, and beliefs project


worlds dominated by mystery and deception (e.g.,
detective novels). Most actual narratives involve
more than one modal system, and therefore project
complex, molecular worlds. A particular case is that
of dyadic worlds, which consist of two ontologically
separate spheres, such as the natural and supernatural
domains in Greek myths, which are dominated by
different laws of possibility. Pavel (1986: 61) calls
such split worlds salient structures (see also Ryan,
1991: 4041).
The most comprehensive typology of text worlds
to date has been proposed by Ryan (1991). By developing the logical notion of accessibility between
different worlds, Ryan arrives at a system for classifying fictional worlds that provides the foundations for a theory of genre (Ryan, 1991: 31). In
logic, accessibility is equated with logical possibility,
so that worlds are accessible from the actual world
if they do not break the laws of logic. However,
the study of fiction requires a much wider range
of different types of accessibility relations, or, in
other words, a range of different types of possibility.
Ryans model includes nine types of accessibility relations: identity of properties, identity of inventory,
compatibility of inventory, chronological compatibility, physical compatibility, taxonomic compatibility,
logical compatibility, analytical compatibility, and
linguistic compatibility (Ryan, 1991: 32). The worlds
of nonfictional texts (e.g., history books), which aim
to represent the actual world, are supposed to fulfill
all these different criteria. Different types of fictional worlds, however, are incompatible with the actual
world in different ways. Historical novels such as War
and Peace are incompatible with the actual world in
terms of their inventory of entities (i.e., they include
non-actual individuals), but are compatible with
the actual worlds in all other respects. When Orwells
1984 was first published, it broke the criterion of
chronological compatibility because it was set in
the future. The worlds of science fiction are also
often taxonomically as well as chronologically impossible, because they include types of objects that
do not exist in the actual world (e.g., spaceships
that can travel to other galaxies). Similarly, the
worlds of fairytales tend to be taxonomically impossible (i.e., they include entities such as fairies and
unicorns), but will also be physically impossible if
they include talking animals and magical transformations. Logical compatibility is violated by worlds
that present two contradictory states of affairs as
simultaneously true (e.g., in Robert Pingets Le Libera, a character is described as simultaneously dead
and alive), while analytical compatibility breaks
down when the essential properties of objects are

denied (e.g., via a reference to a young old man,


sitting on a wooden stone) (Ryan, 1991: 38). Finally,
a world is linguistically impossible if it is described in
a language that cannot be understood in the actual
world, as in the case of the poem Jabberwocky in
Lewis Carrolls Alice in Wonderland.
Ryans typology accounts for a wide variety of
textually projected worlds, from those of nonfictional
genres to those of postmodernist fiction and nonsense
verse. It also enables analysts to classify new texts
alongside existing texts and genres. The world projected by J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter novels, for
example, is incompatible with the actual world in
terms of (a) its inventory (it includes many fictional
characters and does not explicitly include all historically actual entities), (b) the properties of shared
objects (Harry Potters London includes streets and
buildings that are not part of actual London), (c) its
physical laws (e.g., it is characterized by all sorts of
magical activities and transformations), (d) its taxonomy (e.g., the presence of hippogriffs, Dementors,
etc.), and, on one occasion, (e) its logical laws (in
The Prisoner of Azkaban, Harrys recourse to time
travel results in a logical contradiction, where he is in
two different places at the same time, and manages to
conjure a Patronus because he has already seen the
Patronus being conjured in his earlier experience of
the same event).
As Ryan points out, there are several further ways
in which the fictional worlds associated with different
genres can differ from one another. One important
dimension of variation is to do with the extent
to which individual worlds may be said to be incomplete. As I mentioned earlier, unlike the possible worlds of logic, the worlds of fiction do not
assign a truth value to every conceivable proposition.
This means, for example, that there is no answer
to the famous question about the number of
Lady Macbeths children in Shakespeares play (see
Wolterstoff, 1980: 131), nor to a hypothetical question as to whether Emma Bovary had a birthmark on
her left shoulder (Dolez el, 1998: 22). However, fictional worlds may differ considerably in the nature
and degree of the incompleteness they display. While
the stories in Joyces Dubliners are explicitly set in the
Irish capital, for example, Kafkas story A Hunger
Artist does not inform the reader as to the precise
locations of the protagonists travels and death
(Dolez el, 1998: 171172; see also Pavel, 1986: 105).
Another important aspect of variation in the
construction of fictional worlds is to do with what
Dolez el (1980; 1998) calls the process of authentication of fictional entities and events. In prototypical
situations, the text provides an authoritative source
(such as a third-person narrator) who establishes

780 Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications

what exists and what happens in the actual domain of


the world projected by a particular text. This often
contrasts with less authoritative sources, such as characters, who may hold mistaken beliefs about the
world they inhabit. In Cervantess Don Quixote, for
example, the eponymous character (reported in direct
speech) identifies some entities as giants, while in the
narration the same entities are described as windmills. Because of the contrast in authoritativeness
between the narrator and the character, however, it
is only the existence of the windmills that is authenticated (i.e., established as actual) in the world of the
story. Dolez el notes, however, that in less prototypical
situations the process of authentication is often problematic, so that authentication is best seen as a matter
of degree. In cases where the narrator is partly or
wholly unreliable (e.g., in Keseys One Flew Over
the Cuckoos Nest), or where different first-person
narrators give different accounts of the same events
(e.g., in Julian Barness Talking it Over), readers cannot know for certain what exactly happens, and how,
in the world of the story. A more extreme challenge to
authentication is posed by texts that give contradictory, but equally authoritative, versions of situations
and events. In OHenrys story Roads of Destiny, for
example, the main characters death is described in
three different ways (Dolez el, 1998: 163164).
In Dolez els (1998: 160) terms, such narratives are
self-voiding. Ryan (1991: 3940) points out three
different ways in which narratives may fail to authenticate their actual domain, namely by (a) hedging or
modalizing any statements about the world of the
story, (b) blurring the distinction between the voices
of characters and narrators, and (c) withdrawing or
undermining previous narratorial statements without providing any indication of which statements
the reader is supposed to believe.

The Internal Structure of


Fictional Worlds
As has already become clear in the previous discussion, possible-world theorists tend to describe the
complex scenarios that are projected by fictional
texts as systems of worlds, or universes, where one
world functions as the actual domain, and many
other worlds count as alternative possible states of
the actual domain (e.g., see Ryan, 1991: 109). These
alternative possible worlds normally correspond
to the wishes, goals, obligations, speculations, and
fantasies of the characters who inhabit the actual
domain. Building on Dolez els (1976; 1998) classification of basic stories according to four different
modal systems, Ryan (1991: 114) has distinguished
four main types of alternative possible private worlds

within fictional universes: Knowledge worlds (based


on the epistemic modal system and corresponding
to what a character knows and believes about the
world s/he inhabits); Obligation worlds (based on
the deontic modal system and corresponding to a
characters awareness of his or her moral obligations
and interdictions); Wish worlds (based on the axiological modal system and corresponding to what a
character or group of characters regard as desirable
or undesirable); and Fantasy worlds/universes (based
on the alethic modal system and corresponding to
characters fantasies, dreams, and hallucinations).
This kind of account of the internal structure of
fictional worlds has a number of advantages for
the study of fiction and literature. As pointed out by
Dolez el (1976; 1998), it makes it possible to distinguish between stories that foreground different modal
systems and hence different types of alternative
private worlds (e.g., Knowledge worlds are central
to detective stories, while Wish worlds are central to
romantic stories). In addition, Ryan (1991) has
shown how this approach to fictional worlds can
also account for plot development and for the elusive
narrative quality of tellability, namely what makes a
good, aesthetically successful plot.
When there is a perfect correspondence between
the actual domain and all characters private worlds,
the narrative universe is in a state of equilibrium:
everybodys desires are fulfilled, all laws are respected,
there is a consensus as to what is good for the group;
what is good for the group is also good for every individual, everybodys actions respect these ideals, and
everybody has epistemic access to all the worlds of the
system (Ryan, 1991: 120).

In such a narrative universe, there is no need for


action or change, and hence no chance for a plot to
get started. For a plot to begin, there has to be some
kind of conflict between two or more of the worlds
that are included within a particular narrative universe (Ryan, 1991: 120). The nature of this conflict
may vary (Ryan, 1991: 119ff.): There may be a conflict, for example, between the private worlds of
one or more characters in the actual domain (e.g.,
in Shakespeares Othello, Iago brings about a situation where Othellos Knowledge world clashes with
the actual domain in the crucial detail of whether
Desdemona has been unfaithful or not); or there
may be a conflict between the private worlds of different characters (e.g., in Alessandro Manzonis The
Betrothed, the Wish worlds of a young man and a
local nobleman clash because they want to marry the
same woman). Conflict results in the need for action,
and action usually changes the mutual relationships
of worlds within narrative universes, leading to the

Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications 781

need for further action. Final resolutions or happy


endings usually involve the realizations of the private
worlds of the main characters (as opposed to the
villains) in a particular story (e.g., a wedding may
realize the joint Wish worlds of the hero and heroine).
Within this approach, therefore, a narrative move
corresponds to a change in the mutual relationships
among the worlds that make up a particular narrative
universe, and a plot is constituted by a series of successive states of the narrative universe (Ryan, 1991:
124ff.).
Ryan (1991) demonstrates her approach by discussing, among others, Aesops classic story involving the
fox and the crow, a version of which is given below:
The Fox and the Crow
A Fox once saw a Crow fly off with a piece of cheese in
its beak and settle on a branch of a tree. Thats for me,
as I am a Fox, said Master Reynard, and he walked up
to the foot of the tree. Good-day, Mistress Crow, he
cried. How well you are looking to-day: how glossy
your feathers; how bright your eye. I feel sure your voice
must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does;
let me hear but one song from you that I may greet you
as the Queen of Birds. The Crow lifted up her head and
began to caw her best, but the moment she opened her
mouth the piece of cheese fell to the ground, only to be
snapped up by Master Fox. That will do, said he.
That was all I wanted. In exchange for your cheese
I will give you a piece of advice for the future: Do not
trust flatterers.

At the beginning of the story, there is a conflict between the actual domain (where the crow has the
cheese), and the foxs Wish world (where he has
the cheese). The fox therefore carries out a plan in
order to realize his Wish world. The plan involves the
expression of two pretended private worlds (see
Ryan, 1991: 118): a pretended Knowledge world in
which the crow is good-looking and can sing beautifully, and a pretended Wish world in which the crow
sings for the fox. The crow acts on the basis of the
validity of these pretended private worlds and
loses the cheese. The story therefore ends with the
realization of the foxs original Wish world.
This simple account of the plot of Aesops story
shows that it involves several private worlds which
are alternative possible states of the actual domain:
the two pretended private worlds outlined by the fox
and, implicitly, a mistaken Knowledge world formed
by the crow, in which the fox genuinely finds her
beautiful and longs to hear her voice. Ryan (1991:
148) suggests that the tellability of stories crucially
depends on the richness of the domain of the virtual
within narrative universes, i.e., on the presence of a
variety of unrealized possibilities, frustrated wishes,
and mistaken beliefs, which may form private virtual

narratives developed by the characters. This is captured by her Principle of Diversification, which states
that storytellers should try to achieve a high degree of
diversification among the possible worlds that form
the narrative universe (Ryan, 1991: 156; see also
Semino, 2003).

Other Applications to Literature and


Fiction
The possible-worlds approach to literature and fiction has been traditionally applied particularly to
novels and short stories (e.g., Maitre, 1983; Ronen,
1994), presumably because of their narrative character. However, a number of studies have also been
concerned with drama and poetry (e.g., Eco, 1979,
1990; Martinez-Bonati, 1981; Meneses, 1991;
Semino, 1997), as well as with fairy stories, myths,
and a variety of other verbal and nonverbal genres
(e.g., Dolez el, 1998; Eco, 1979, 1990; Pavel, 1986;
Ryan, 1991). The approach has been extended to new
forms of narrative discourse emerging from the exploitation of computer technology, and particularly
to virtual reality (e.g., Ryan, 1995a).
Postmodernist literature, in particular, has received
a great deal of attention from possible-world
narratologists (see, for example, Ashline, 1995;
Eco, 1979, 1990; Dolez el, 1995, 1998; Ronen, 1995;
Ryan, 1991, 1995a, 1995b). This is because, as I have
mentioned at various points, postmodernist literature
tends to be characterized by logical contradictions
and ontological violations that pose serious but interesting challenges to the possible-worlds analytical
framework. In this respect, Ashline (1995) has proposed a useful typology of logically impossible
worlds in postmodernism, which includes five types
of impossibility:
1. An event is presented as both having happened
and not having happened, thereby violating the
logical law of non-contradiction (e.g., in Alain
Robbe-Grillets La maison de rendezvous,
Edouard Mannerett is presented to be alive after
his death has been narrated);
2. Two or more different (but equally authoritative)
versions of events in the actual domain of the
story are presented (e.g., hypertext fiction, and
the two different endings of Fowless The French
Lieutenants Woman);
3. An apparently logical world suddenly presents
a paradox that involves logical impossibility
(e.g., the inclusion of time travel in Harry Potter
and the Prisoner of Azkaban);
4. The boundaries between separate ontological
spheres are transgressed (e.g., the inclusion of

782 Possible Worlds: Stylistic Applications

the reader in the text world of Calvinos If on a


Winters Night a Traveler);
5. Characters from separate fictional worlds
are brought together (e.g., in Caryl Churchills
play Top Girls, Chaucers Griselda and the
woman in Brueghels painting Dulle Griet have a
meal with the 19th century traveler Isabella Bird,
the 13th century Japanese courtesan Lady Nijo,
and the 9th century Pope Joan).
According to Eco (1990: 76), such logically impossible worlds can be mentioned but cannot be constructed, i.e., they cannot be imagined and explored
by readers as fully as worlds that are logically possible.
All types of impossibility, however, require a certain
degree of flexibility and superficiality (Eco, 1990: 76)
on the part of readers, who, as Maitre (1983: 17)
points out, need to focus on the intelligible features
of fictional worlds without pursuing the implications
of unintelligible features (such as the physiology of
talking animals or the chemistry of magical transformations). As childrens fiction shows, impossibilities
of all kinds can be easily accepted and enjoyed
by young audiences, including major violations such
as the transgression of ontological boundaries (in
Winnie the Pooh stories, for example, the characters
regularly converse with the narrator).
Generally speaking, possible-world approaches
tend to focus on the overall characteristics of text
worlds, genres and plots, and do not normally involve
the detailed linguistic analysis of texts. However,
some attention is paid to linguistic features such as
referring expressions and modality. In addition,
notions such as authentication and the contrast between the actual domain and characters private
worlds are closely linked with textual phenomena
such as mode of narration, point of view, focalization, and speech and thought presentation (see also
Semino, 2003). Some studies have applied a possibleworlds approach to the study of specific linguistic
phenomena, such as the presentation of hypothetical
words and thoughts in narrative (Semino et al., 1999),
free indirect discourse (Oltean, 2003), and negation
in poetry (Hidalgo-Downing, 2002).
See also: Narrative: Linguistic and Structural Theories;
Possible Worlds: Philosophical Theories; Speech and
Thought: Representation of; Text World Theory.

Bibliography
Alle n S (ed.) (1989). Possible Worlds in Humanities, Arts
and Sciences: Proceedings of Nobel Symposium 65.
New York and Berlin: de Gruyter.
Ashline W L (1995). The problem of impossible fictions.
Style 29, 215234.

Bradley R & Swartz N (1979). Possible Worlds: An Introduction to Logic and its Philosophy. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Divers J (2002). Possible Worlds. London: Routledge.
Dolez el L (1976). Narrative modalities. Journal of
Literary Semantics 5, 514.
Dolez el L (1980). Truth and authenticity in narrative.
Poetics Today 1, 725.
Dolez el L (1995). Fictional worlds: Density, gaps, and
inference. Style 29, 201214.
Dolez el L (1998). Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible
Worlds. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins
University Press.
Eco U (1979). The Role of the Reader. London: Hutchinson.
Eco U (1990). The Limits of Interpretation. Bloomington
and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.
Hidalgo-Downing L (2002). Creating things that are
not: The role of negation in the poetry of Wislawa
Szymborska. Journal of Literary Semantics 31, 113132.
Kripke S (1971). Semantical considerations on modal
logic. In Linsky L (ed.) Reference and Modality. Oxford:
Clarendon Press. 6372.
Lewis D (1986). On the Plurality of Worlds. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Maitre D (1983). Literature and Possible Worlds. London:
Middlesex Polytechnic Press.
Martnez-Bonati F (1981). Fictive Discourse and the Structures of Literature. Ithaca, NY, and London, UK: Cornell
University Press.
Meneses P (1991). Poetic worlds: Martin Codax. Style 25,
291309.
Oltean S (2003). On the bivocal nature of free indirect
discourse. Journal of Literary Semantics 32, 167176.
Pavel T G (1986). Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, MA and
London, UK: Harvard University Press.
Ronen R (1994). Possible Worlds in Literary Theory.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ronen R (1995). Philosophical realism and postmodern
antirealism. Style 29, 84200.
Ryan M-L (1991). Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence
and Narrative Theory. Bloomington and Indianapolis,
IN: Indiana University Press.
Ryan M-L (1995a). Introduction: From possible worlds to
virtual reality. Style 29, 173183.
Ryan M-L (1995b). Allegories of immersion: Virtual
narration in postmodern fiction. Style 29, 262286.
Semino E (1997). Language and World Creation in Poems
and Other Texts. London: Longman.
Semino E (2003). Discourse worlds and mental spaces. In
Gavins J & Steen G (eds.) Cognitive Poetics in Practice.
London: Routledge. 8398.
Semino E, Short M & Wynne M (1999). Hypothetical
words and thoughts in contemporary British narratives.
Narrative 7, 307334.
Teleman U (1989). The world of words and pictures. In
Alle n S (ed.) Possible Worlds in Humanities, Arts and
Sciences: Proceedings of Nobel Symposium 65.
New York and Berlin: de Gruyter. 199208.
Wolterstoff N (1980). Works and Worlds of Art. Oxford:
Clarendon Press.

Post-Bloomfieldians 783

Post-Bloomfieldians
J P Blevins, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Leonard Bloomfield is widely regarded as the principal architect of American descriptivism (or structuralism, as it tends to be called by its detractors), yet
many of the positions associated with the descriptivist
or Bloomfieldian tradition originate with Bloomfields successors. Indeed, the great achievement of
the post-Bloomfieldians was to develop the often
programmatic remarks in Bloomfields work into a
coherent framework of grammatical analysis. To the
extent that the key analytical assumptions of this
framework survive in generative approaches and
their offshoots, contemporary formal approaches
fall squarely within the post-Bloomfieldian tradition.
For the sake of this survey, it is nevertheless useful to
restrict attention to the group of Bloomfields immediate successors; they include Bernard Bloch, Zellig
Harris, Archibald Hill, Charles Hockett, Eugene
Nida, Kenneth Pike, Henry Smith, George Trager,
and Rulon Wells.
The post-Bloomfieldians established the now-familiar practice of factoring linguistic descriptions
into a series of levels in which simple units at one
level are made up of combinations of units from the
next level down. This Russian doll organization, in
which clauses are composed of phrases, phrases of
words, words of morphemes, and morphemes of phonemes, departs significantly from the conception outlined in Bloomfield 1933. Bloomfield had interpreted
the relation between a meaning-bearing morpheme
and its constituent non-meaning-bearing phonemes
as a model for the organization of linguistic signs
in general. Hence tagmemes, meaning-bearing units
at the syntactic level, were composed of non-meaning-bearing taxemes, not of smaller meaning-bearing
units, such as morphemes. It was the post-Bloomfieldians who replaced Bloomfields fractal conception
with a model in which a linguistic analysis projected
uniform part-whole relations from morpheme to
utterance, in the terms of Harris (1946).
The post-Bloomfieldians applied this general constituency-based conception first to the analysis of
word structure and then to phrase and clause structure. In the domain of morphology, techniques of
part-whole analysis evolved into what Hockett
(1954) termed the item and arrangement (IA)
model. The basic principles of segmentation and classification that defined this model were set out in
Harris (1942) and refined in Hockett (1947). By
the early 1950s Hockett was no longer satisfied by

technical solutions to the shortcomings of part-whole


analysis, and Hockett (1954) outlined the item and
process (IP) model as an alternative that avoids zero
morphs, replacive morphs, subtractive morphs, and
other types of expedient units. Hockett (1967) went
further in characterizing morphemic analysis in general as a shorthand description of processes of analogical extension based on exemplary paradigms and
other morphological patterns. By this time, however, the IA model had jumped hosts, and was firmly
established in the generative school.
Post-Bloomfieldian analyses of syntax were not
quite as far along at the point that the descriptivist
paradigm was superseded by the generative school.
But the relatively sketchy remarks about syntax in
Bloomfield (1933) had been developed into procedures of immediate constituent (IC) analysis in studies such as Wells, 1947. These techniques, in turn,
formed the basis for the model of phrase structure
analysis formalized in Chomsky, 1956. However, it
is important to bear in mind that the goal of Chomskys formalization was to establish the inadequacy of
phrase structure analysis. This goal was achieved in
part by defining phrase structure grammars in such a
way as to exclude the discontinuous constituents
recognized in Wells (1947) and in nearly all
subsequent models of IC analysis. This might not
matter quite so much if Chomsky (1957) did not
criticize phrase structure analysis precisely on the
grounds that discontinuous elements cannot be handled readily within the phrase structure grammar.
Like Harris (1957), Chomsky (1957) introduced
transformational relations between constituent structures to overcome the putative limitations of single
structures. Transformations in Harriss sense
expressed static implicational relations over patterns
in a corpus: e.g., that a sufficiently large corpus containing a passive would contain a corresponding active. Chomsky (1957) proposed a more dynamic
interpretation on which transformations were interpreted as applying to one structure to derive another.
Although part-whole analysis can, in principle,
proceed in either a top-down or bottom-up fashion,
the post-Bloomfieldian techniques were meant to be
applied over successively larger domains, from phonemes, through morphemes, to phrases, and onto
discourses. At each level a distributional analysis
would define the units and classes in terms of which
the analysis of the next level would be defined. The
desire to obtain effective mechanical procedures of
analysis led to the exclusion of considerations
of meaning and to strictures against mixing levels.
It is for these methodological concerns that the

784 Post-Bloomfieldians

post-Bloomfieldians are best known in the modern


era. Yet it is only fair to mention a number of points
in their defense. The first point is that the descriptivist
framework grew out of a fieldwork tradition in which
the search for discovery procedures was meant to
address practical as well as theoretical problems.
While this search may have proved unsuccessful, at
least in the terms that the descriptivists framed the
task, much the same can be said for the more modest
task of formulating evaluation procedures to choose
between extensionally equivalent generative grammars (Chomsky, 1957). The reduction of grammatical analysis to distributional analysis is also not
entirely confined to the descriptivist tradition. In
any model that rejects traditional definitions such as
a noun is the name of a person, place or thing, it is
not clear on what basis, other than form or distribution, word classes are defined. On the predominantly
agglutinative view of word structure adopted in IA
accounts whether descriptivist or generative form
classes are merely a type of morphological distribution class. So any approach that rejects notional definitions of categories is implicitly distributional.
Considerations of this sort do not justify all of the
assumptions and practices of the post-Bloomfieldians. However, they do reinforce the essential
continuity between the descriptivist and generative
paradigms (which is traced in more detail in Matthews, 1993) as well as offer a useful corrective
to the popular view of the post-Bloomfieldians as
methodological eccentrics.

See also: Bloomfield, Leonard (18871949); Constituent


Structure; Discontinuous Dependencies; Harris, Zellig S.
(19091992); Hockett, Charles Francis (19162000).

Bibliography
Chomsky N (1956). Three models for the description of
language. Institute of Radio Engineers transactions on
information theory 2(2), 113124.
Chomsky N (1957). Syntactic structures. The Hague:
Mouton.
Harris Z S (1942). Morpheme alternants in linguistic analysis. Language 18, 169180 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
109115.].
Harris Z S (1946). From morpheme to utterance. Language 22, 161183 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957, 142153.].
Harris Z S (1957). Co-occurrence and transformation in
linguistic structure. Language 33, 283340 [Reprinted
in Joos, 1957, 109115.].
Hockett C F (1947). Problems of morphemic analysis.
Language 23, 321343 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
229242.].
Hockett C F (1954). Two models of grammatical description. Word 10, 210231 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
386399.].
Hockett C F (1967). The Yawelmani basic verb. Language
43, 208222.
Joos M (ed.) (1957). Readings in linguistics I. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Matthews P H (1993). Grammatical theory in the United
States from Bloomfield to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Postel, Guillaume (15101581)


K Karttunen, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Guillaume Postel was born in Barenton, Normandy


on March 25, 1510 and died in Paris on September 6,
1581.
Postel started his career as a scholar of Greek,
Hebrew, and Arabic, although he later moved to
missionarian and millenarian fantasies. Born in modest surroundings, he came to Paris and received his
M.A. in 1530. In 1536 he joined the French embassy
in Constantinople, where he spent his time studying
Arabic and purchasing books. Back in Paris he
became professor at Colle`ge Royal (1538) and started
lecturing on mathematics and philology. As a
true humanist scholar, he was involved in quarrels
and court intrigues and in 1542 had to leave his

chair. He then turned from academia to religion and


missionary activities. To find suitable missionaries he
went to Rome, joined the Jesuits, and became a priest,
but soon found obedience difficult, especially because
others did not accept his views. His plans for the
conversion of Asia and Africa envisioned the French
king as their leader instead of the Pope. He also
started to mix Judaic mysticism in his ideas. Postels
final break with the Jesuits came at the end of 1545,
and he then went to Venice, concentrating on writing
and Cabbalistic studies.
In 1549 Postel went to Palestine and Constantinople. Back in Paris he started millenarian preaching.
This was also a period of frenzied writing: In 1551
1555 he published at least 23 books. Forbidden to
teach in public, he went again to Venice and for a
brief time was a professor in Vienna (15541555).
Back in Italy he was arrested as a heretic and was

784 Post-Bloomfieldians

post-Bloomfieldians are best known in the modern


era. Yet it is only fair to mention a number of points
in their defense. The first point is that the descriptivist
framework grew out of a fieldwork tradition in which
the search for discovery procedures was meant to
address practical as well as theoretical problems.
While this search may have proved unsuccessful, at
least in the terms that the descriptivists framed the
task, much the same can be said for the more modest
task of formulating evaluation procedures to choose
between extensionally equivalent generative grammars (Chomsky, 1957). The reduction of grammatical analysis to distributional analysis is also not
entirely confined to the descriptivist tradition. In
any model that rejects traditional definitions such as
a noun is the name of a person, place or thing, it is
not clear on what basis, other than form or distribution, word classes are defined. On the predominantly
agglutinative view of word structure adopted in IA
accounts whether descriptivist or generative form
classes are merely a type of morphological distribution class. So any approach that rejects notional definitions of categories is implicitly distributional.
Considerations of this sort do not justify all of the
assumptions and practices of the post-Bloomfieldians. However, they do reinforce the essential
continuity between the descriptivist and generative
paradigms (which is traced in more detail in Matthews, 1993) as well as offer a useful corrective
to the popular view of the post-Bloomfieldians as
methodological eccentrics.

See also: Bloomfield, Leonard (18871949); Constituent


Structure; Discontinuous Dependencies; Harris, Zellig S.
(19091992); Hockett, Charles Francis (19162000).

Bibliography
Chomsky N (1956). Three models for the description of
language. Institute of Radio Engineers transactions on
information theory 2(2), 113124.
Chomsky N (1957). Syntactic structures. The Hague:
Mouton.
Harris Z S (1942). Morpheme alternants in linguistic analysis. Language 18, 169180 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
109115.].
Harris Z S (1946). From morpheme to utterance. Language 22, 161183 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957, 142153.].
Harris Z S (1957). Co-occurrence and transformation in
linguistic structure. Language 33, 283340 [Reprinted
in Joos, 1957, 109115.].
Hockett C F (1947). Problems of morphemic analysis.
Language 23, 321343 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
229242.].
Hockett C F (1954). Two models of grammatical description. Word 10, 210231 [Reprinted in Joos, 1957,
386399.].
Hockett C F (1967). The Yawelmani basic verb. Language
43, 208222.
Joos M (ed.) (1957). Readings in linguistics I. Chicago:
University of Chicago Press.
Matthews P H (1993). Grammatical theory in the United
States from Bloomfield to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Postel, Guillaume (15101581)


K Karttunen, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Guillaume Postel was born in Barenton, Normandy


on March 25, 1510 and died in Paris on September 6,
1581.
Postel started his career as a scholar of Greek,
Hebrew, and Arabic, although he later moved to
missionarian and millenarian fantasies. Born in modest surroundings, he came to Paris and received his
M.A. in 1530. In 1536 he joined the French embassy
in Constantinople, where he spent his time studying
Arabic and purchasing books. Back in Paris he
became professor at Colle`ge Royal (1538) and started
lecturing on mathematics and philology. As a
true humanist scholar, he was involved in quarrels
and court intrigues and in 1542 had to leave his

chair. He then turned from academia to religion and


missionary activities. To find suitable missionaries he
went to Rome, joined the Jesuits, and became a priest,
but soon found obedience difficult, especially because
others did not accept his views. His plans for the
conversion of Asia and Africa envisioned the French
king as their leader instead of the Pope. He also
started to mix Judaic mysticism in his ideas. Postels
final break with the Jesuits came at the end of 1545,
and he then went to Venice, concentrating on writing
and Cabbalistic studies.
In 1549 Postel went to Palestine and Constantinople. Back in Paris he started millenarian preaching.
This was also a period of frenzied writing: In 1551
1555 he published at least 23 books. Forbidden to
teach in public, he went again to Venice and for a
brief time was a professor in Vienna (15541555).
Back in Italy he was arrested as a heretic and was

Postmodernism 785

imprisoned in Rome from 1555 to 1559. Over the


next several years he traveled in France, Italy, and
Germany, trying inter alia to win Protestants over to
his ideas. In 1563 he was put into forced seclusion in a
monastery in Paris, as a lunatic rather than a heretic.
He was allowed to concentrate on his studies and
writing and eventually to correspond and teach.
Postel was one of the first European scholars
to show serious interest in Oriental languages
beyond Hebrew. His observations of the similarity
between Hebrew and Arabic make him a pioneer of
comparative Semitic linguistics, although he also followed the traditions of Medieval Hebrew grammarians, known to him mainly through his friend Elija
Levita. He strongly propagated the usefulness of
Arabic studies for a successful mission and published
the first printed Arabic grammar in 1538 or 1540.
However, the major part of his large literary output
is not related to linguistics. Through his students he
influenced the Antwerpen Polyglot Bible.

See also: Arabic; Levita, Elijah (14691549); Renaissance


Linguistics: French Tradition; Semitic Languages.

Bibliography
Bouwsma W J (1957). Concordia Mundi. The career and
thought of Guillaume Postel (15101581). Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.
Kuntz M L (1981). Guillaume Postel, prophet of the
restitution of all things: his life and thought. Archives
internationales dhistoire des ide es 98. The Hague:
Nijhoff.
Matton S (ed.) (2001). Documents oublies sur lalchimie, la
kabbale et Guillaume Postel: offerts, a` loccasion de son
90e anniversaire, a` Francois Secret par ses ele`ves et amis.
Travaux dhumanisme et Renaissance 353. Gene`ve:
Droz.
Postel G (1538a). Linguarum duodecim characteribus
differentium alphabetum. Paris: Dionysius Lescuier.
Postel G (1538b). De Originibus seu de Hebraicae linguae
et gentis antiquitate, deque variarum linguarum affinitate. Paris: Dionysius Lescuier.
Postel G (1540?). Grammatica Arabica. Paris: Petrus
Gromorsus.
Postel C (1992). Les ecrits de Guillaume Postel: publies en
France et leurs editeurs 15381579. Travaux dhumanisme et renaissance 265. Gene`ve: Droz.
Secret F (1962). Guillaume Postel et les e tudes arabes a` la
renaissance. Arabica 9, 2136.

Postmodernism
T F Broden, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
The epithet postmodern was used with increasing
frequency in the 1960s1990s to describe postwar
affluent societies and their cultural productions. The
term has been used to designate both the extenuation
of modernism and a novel impulse reacting against
modernism, both a sociohistorical period and an esthetic trend. Postmodern conveys now stylistic tendencies, now arts relation to society; now pejorative,
now meliorative assessments; now English-language
cultural productions, now those of different idioms
and many continents.
As of the early 1960s, new trends in American
fiction dubbed postmodern by writers and critics challenged realist and modernist precepts. In literature,
postmodernism manifests itself in writing that flaunts
its artifice as language and text, in vibrant confrontations of elite and mass cultural forms, and in new
styles that combine innovative techniques with critical realism (John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Robert
Coover, Thomas Pynchon). Postmodern novels

discuss their own literary devices with the reader;


imitate other works or styles for playful or ironic
effect; paste together bits of journalism and letters,
ads and textbooks; and jumble or dissolve narrative
structure, setting, and characters. The experimentalism celebrates linguistic creativity, reflects on the nature of narration, and questions the fictional status of
reality, probing the links between storytelling and the
official stories. Writers and critics noted commonalities with trends in literature and film already underway elsewhere in the world, including in France,
Italy, Latin America, and Spain, and included these
movements under the expanding umbrella of postmodernism. Emphasizing this internationalism as well
as its affinities with developments in the human
sciences, especially structuralism and poststructuralism, Ihab Hassan defined postmodernism as a veritable episteme characterizing the cultural sensibility of
the new epoch.
Contemporaneous to the new fiction but initially
separate from it, postmodernist styles emerged with
great force and clarity in architecture in the 1960s:
new designs revitalized modernist forms by infusing
regional and classical elements. Long banned by doctrinaire modernists, the traditional features integrate

Postmodernism 785

imprisoned in Rome from 1555 to 1559. Over the


next several years he traveled in France, Italy, and
Germany, trying inter alia to win Protestants over to
his ideas. In 1563 he was put into forced seclusion in a
monastery in Paris, as a lunatic rather than a heretic.
He was allowed to concentrate on his studies and
writing and eventually to correspond and teach.
Postel was one of the first European scholars
to show serious interest in Oriental languages
beyond Hebrew. His observations of the similarity
between Hebrew and Arabic make him a pioneer of
comparative Semitic linguistics, although he also followed the traditions of Medieval Hebrew grammarians, known to him mainly through his friend Elija
Levita. He strongly propagated the usefulness of
Arabic studies for a successful mission and published
the first printed Arabic grammar in 1538 or 1540.
However, the major part of his large literary output
is not related to linguistics. Through his students he
influenced the Antwerpen Polyglot Bible.

See also: Arabic; Levita, Elijah (14691549); Renaissance


Linguistics: French Tradition; Semitic Languages.

Bibliography
Bouwsma W J (1957). Concordia Mundi. The career and
thought of Guillaume Postel (15101581). Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press.
Kuntz M L (1981). Guillaume Postel, prophet of the
restitution of all things: his life and thought. Archives
internationales dhistoire des idees 98. The Hague:
Nijhoff.
Matton S (ed.) (2001). Documents oublies sur lalchimie, la
kabbale et Guillaume Postel: offerts, a` loccasion de son
90e anniversaire, a` Francois Secret par ses ele`ves et amis.
Travaux dhumanisme et Renaissance 353. Gene`ve:
Droz.
Postel G (1538a). Linguarum duodecim characteribus
differentium alphabetum. Paris: Dionysius Lescuier.
Postel G (1538b). De Originibus seu de Hebraicae linguae
et gentis antiquitate, deque variarum linguarum affinitate. Paris: Dionysius Lescuier.
Postel G (1540?). Grammatica Arabica. Paris: Petrus
Gromorsus.
Postel C (1992). Les ecrits de Guillaume Postel: publies en
France et leurs editeurs 15381579. Travaux dhumanisme et renaissance 265. Gene`ve: Droz.
Secret F (1962). Guillaume Postel et les etudes arabes a` la
renaissance. Arabica 9, 2136.

Postmodernism
T F Broden, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
The epithet postmodern was used with increasing
frequency in the 1960s1990s to describe postwar
affluent societies and their cultural productions. The
term has been used to designate both the extenuation
of modernism and a novel impulse reacting against
modernism, both a sociohistorical period and an esthetic trend. Postmodern conveys now stylistic tendencies, now arts relation to society; now pejorative,
now meliorative assessments; now English-language
cultural productions, now those of different idioms
and many continents.
As of the early 1960s, new trends in American
fiction dubbed postmodern by writers and critics challenged realist and modernist precepts. In literature,
postmodernism manifests itself in writing that flaunts
its artifice as language and text, in vibrant confrontations of elite and mass cultural forms, and in new
styles that combine innovative techniques with critical realism (John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Robert
Coover, Thomas Pynchon). Postmodern novels

discuss their own literary devices with the reader;


imitate other works or styles for playful or ironic
effect; paste together bits of journalism and letters,
ads and textbooks; and jumble or dissolve narrative
structure, setting, and characters. The experimentalism celebrates linguistic creativity, reflects on the nature of narration, and questions the fictional status of
reality, probing the links between storytelling and the
official stories. Writers and critics noted commonalities with trends in literature and film already underway elsewhere in the world, including in France,
Italy, Latin America, and Spain, and included these
movements under the expanding umbrella of postmodernism. Emphasizing this internationalism as well
as its affinities with developments in the human
sciences, especially structuralism and poststructuralism, Ihab Hassan defined postmodernism as a veritable episteme characterizing the cultural sensibility of
the new epoch.
Contemporaneous to the new fiction but initially
separate from it, postmodernist styles emerged with
great force and clarity in architecture in the 1960s:
new designs revitalized modernist forms by infusing
regional and classical elements. Long banned by doctrinaire modernists, the traditional features integrate

786 Postmodernism

modernisms striking geometries and bold rhythms


into the local environment, at least in part, and connect the novel structures to the architectural heritage.
Originating in the United States and spreading throughout the globe, postmodern architectural ideas appeared
in designs as well as in theoretical essays that enjoyed
great influence in numerous fields and professions,
especially the writings of Charles Jencks. In art, strategies subsequently associated with postmodernism
played a prominent role in Pop Art and Conceptual
Art, before postmodern theory became infuential in
the 1980s. First photography, then painting explored
strategies of appropriating recognizable images in
new compositions to produce quotations, collages,
or ironic treatments.
A new wave of writings on postmodernism in the
1980s emphasized its definition as a historical moment and greatly developed its social and philosophical implications, further widening the scope and
raising the stakes of the discussion. According to these
views, the extensive postwar technological, economic, and societal changes in the West have introduced
media and forms of communication radically altering
human experience (Jean Baudrillard), have fundamentally transformed social structures and attitudes
toward knowledge (Jean-Franc ois Lyotard), and have
created a new life-world for which subjects existing perceptual strategies no longer prove adequate
(Fredric Jameson). The transformations undermine
the belief systems that organized the modern world,
from the Marxist faith in the coming of a classless
society to the Enlightenment quest for freedom and
happiness through reason. In the postmodern era, art,
fiction, and even science can claim only immanent,
local significations always subject to change and to
debate. In the most radical postmodernist formulations, spectacles substitute for events, images replace
identities, and signs in society derive from other social
signs, with no grounding in reality, history, or nature.
Contesting key features of such perspectives, Ju rgen
Habermas called for the West to rededicate itself to
the Enlightenment project of emancipation.
Postmodernism became the foremost intellectual
controversy of the 1980s in the human sciences
and the arts, challenging disciplines and professions
to re-examine how they define themselves and their
objectives. The debates engaged central intellectual,
esthetic, and social trends of the postwar years, including poststructuralism, Marxism, and critical
theory; new information and communication technologies; and social and economic history. New
essays on postmodern fiction, art, and architecture
broadened and deepened the compass of postmodern
studies in those fields. Postmodernism reshaped film
and media studies, and revolutionized other recent

and interdisciplinary fields such as womens studies,


queer theory, and postcolonial studies. The discussions also intersected with examinations of what went
awry with the radical political and cultural effervescence of the 1960s throughout the world, and overlapped with explorations of how to construct a New
Left through issues of race and ethnicity, sex and
gender, ecology and the environment, and regional
and local concerns (cf. Ernesto Laclau and Chantal
Mouffe, Hegemony and socialist strategy, 1985;
Stanley Aronowitz and Henry Giroux, Postmodern
education, 1991).
As a historical period, postmodernity is coextensive
with consumer society, the computer age, and global
capitalism, with rock music and television, with
the triumph of the image and the omnipresence of
plastics. It subsumes sociologists Alain Touraine
(The Post-industrial society, 1969) and Daniel Bells
description of post-industrial society characterized
by, in Bells words, a shift from manufacturing to
services, the centrality of the new science-based
industries, and the rise of new technical e lites and
the advent of a new principle of stratification (The
coming of post-industrial society, 1973, in Sim, 2001:
196b). In a Marxist framework, postmodernity corresponds to postwar late capitalism dominated by
multinational corporations and a globalized labor
market (Ernest Mandel, Late capitalism, 1975). Postmodern time and space are compressed: instantaneous emails replace letters as zapping displaces
attending a performance; an urban restaurant row
and the corner market reproduce globalization in
microcosm (Harvey, 1989).
This article examines in greater detail three arenas
in which postmodern esthetics made a particularly
significant impact: fiction, architecture, and art, then
studies the postmodern philosophical and social
debates of the 1980s1990s.

Fiction
In the first half of the 1960s, a number of experimental
novels by new authors such as John Barth, Donald
Barthelme, Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon, Robert
Coover, and then little-known Vladimir Nabokov,
introduced a new kind fiction in the United States, a
peculiar blend of dark humor, literary parody, surrealism, byzantine plots full of improbable coincidences
and outrageous action, all presented in a dazzling
variety of excessive styles that constantly called attention to themselves. Postmodern fiction had arrived
(McCaffery, 1986: xix). The writers deliberately distanced themselves from their well-known realist
elders Philip Roth, William Styron, and John Updike,
as they did from earlier masters of mimesis such as

Postmodernism 787

Honore de Balzac, Benito Pe rez Galdo s, and Charles


Dickens. The critic Leslie Fiedler enthusiastically
pointed to new authors inspired to cross the border,
close the gap by transgressing and straddling modernisms dichotomy between high and low culture,
letting fresh breezes of popular culture into their
work. Upstart, populist, and playful postmodernists
also appeared as a fresh alternative to the hieratic
and formalist high modernists Paul Vale ry and
Marcel Proust, the early James Joyce and William
Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound and Thomas Stearns Eliot,
Rainer Maria Rilke and Thomas Mann (Hassan,
1982: 267).
Observing affinities between the new American fiction and ongoing trends abroad, including the Nueva
Narrativa in Latin America, the neo-Baroque in
Spain, the Nouveau Roman in France, and the experimental films of Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini,
and the French Nouvelle Vague (Jean-Luc Godard,
Franc ois Truffaut), writers and critics such as Ihab
Hassan, John Barth, and Paul Auster defined literary
postmodernism as an international phenomenon.
The Nouveau Roman and certain Latin American
novels of the boom take apart the ingredients of
the traditional narrative so systematically and selfconsciously that Jean-Paul Sartre dubbed the result
anti-novels. Nathalie Sarrautes novels (Tropisms,
1939) and essays (The age of suspicion, 1956) utterly deconstruct lifelike fictional characters with
psychological depth and replace them by interwoven,
disembodied voices, much like the flat, chameleon
characters of American authors Ronald Sukenick
and Ron Silliman. In a similar spirit, fragmentary
chronicles and uncanny metaphors replace characterization or structured plot in Richard Brautigans
Trout fishing in America (1967). Julio Corta zars
narrative puzzle and socio-philosophical essay
Hopscotch (1963) utterly destructures its narrative
thread, chopping up the story and redistributing its
pieces in apparently random order. Such narratives
emphasize the active role of the reader in constituting the text, which becomes process rather than product. The frequent convergence of writer and critic in
one figure Barth and Sarraute, Alain Robbe-Grillet
and William Gass underlines the extent to which
postmodern fiction self-consciously raises fundamental questions about its own procedures, uses, and
purposes.
Violating high modernisms doctrine of originality,
many postmodern works foreground their appurtenance to earlier texts, mimicking recognizable authors
and styles, ironically invoking or playfully deforming
familiar stories and genres. John Gardners Grendel
(1971), for example, retells the Beowulf epic from the
perspective of the monster, as Robert Coover spins

contemporary versions of Little red riding hood and


Noahs ark in his Pricksongs and descants (1969).
Coover, Kurt Vonnegut, and Robert Jaffe create verbal
collages by incorporating fragments of news stories
into their fiction. The postmodern text exhibits its
status as mosaic of quotations (Julia Kristeva), as
perpetual interweaving (Roland Barthes) of previous works and genres, linguistic communities and
individual styles. Works pastiche or parody one or
more popular genres such as detective fiction and spy
thrillers, science fiction and western, romance and
gothic novel. Patricia Waugh studies postmodern narrative prose as metafiction, literature that draws
attention to its status as language and narration,
genre and book, in order to question the relation
between fiction and reality (1984: 2). Novels such as
Doris Lessings The golden notebook (1962) recount
stories about writing, and contain nested within them
other narratives, while in John Fowless The French
lieutenants woman (1969), the contemporary narrator of the historical novel breaks into the plot, intervening in the action and dialogue. Over-obstrusive,
visibly inventing storytellers freely break into the
diegesis, while stylized layouts and innovative typography underscore the materiality of the text (Waugh,
1984: 2122).
In many postmodern novels, experimental techniques and social commentary mesh and feed off each
other in order to question how conventions are
adopted, ideologies elaborated, and official histories
written, at times evoking unreal or even abominable
situations (Hutcheon, 1989: 71; McCaffery, 1986:
xxv; cf. Waugh, 1984: 2). Santiago Cola s shows that
by blending metafiction and narration, dialogue and
interior monologue, hallucinatory dream sequences
and ekphrastic summaries of movie scenes, Manuel
Puigs Kiss of the spider woman (1976) communicates
a feel for the inconceivable horror of the violent political world of 1970s Argentina, and also imagines
potential escapes and alternatives (1994: 7699;
cf. the role of magical realism in Gabriel Garca
Marquezs One hundred years of solitude, 1967).
Linda Hutcheon proposes as the quintessential postmodern genre a synthesis of historical fiction and
self-reflexivity that she terms historiographic metafiction: in works such as Fowless French lieutenants
woman and Thomas Pynchons Gravitys rainbow
(1973), the theoretical self-awareness of history and
fiction as human constructs (historio-graphic metafiction) is made the grounds for its rethinking and its
reworking of the forms and contents of the past
(Natoli and Hutcheon, 1993: 246; cf. Fredrick Karls
mega-novels). Coovers The public burning (1977)
inventively depicts the transformation of elections
and politics into entertainment and advertising,

788 Postmodernism

while 1980s cyberpunk renovates science fiction in


critiquing the uniformization of global commercial
culture.
Postmodern fiction variously celebrates the joy of
verbal invention, questions the nature of representation, and stages the crisis of reference. The shift from
literature confident in its mimetic capacities to
writing that exhibits its own fictionality and highlights multiple and alternative perspectives is consonant with structuralisms contemporaneous dissection
of linguistic structures and narrative conventions;
it also resonates with poststructuralisms foregrounding of its own discursivity, its skepticism toward
knowledge, and its critique of referentiality. In the
United States, the transition also charts the declining
confidence in political institutions, as the populist
challenge to the hegemony of elite art resonates with
the rise of protest movements and youth counterculture. Postmodern fiction moves away from modernisms epistemological and hermeneutic dramas in
which subjects seek to know and understand their
life-world, and raises instead fundamental ontological issues, questioning the very existence of a reality
and a human subject outside of language (McHale,
1987). Characteristics attributed to postmodernism
overlap with those identified with the Baroque (and
to a certain extent Romanticism) as contrasted with
the Classical: movement over stasis, hybrid genres
versus generic purity, allegory over metonymy, excess
versus mean. Precursors and kindred spirits of literary postmodernism include Franz Kafka, Andre Gide,
the later James Joyce, Euge`ne Ionesco, Laurence
Sterne, Jean Paul, Madeleine de Scude ry, Miguel de
Cervantes, Franc ois Rabelais, and the essayist Michel
de Montaigne.
Literary postmodernism has never lacked its discontents. Already in the 1960s, academics Irving
Howe (the Old Left) and Harry Levin (the critical
establishment) lamented that robust modernism
had given way to the tired counterpart they termed
postmodernism, which abandoned arts high purpose and even its craft. Author John Gardner (On
moral fiction, 1978) and Marxist critic Gerald Graff
(Literature against itself, 1979) charge that postmodern fiction betrays its responsibilities and social
potential in favor of formal games and verbal ingenuity. Jameson interprets metafiction as a symptom of
the corrosive effects of late capitalism, which leaves
writers unable to develop a personal style or to invent
compelling new worlds, and finds postmodern versions of the historical novel incapable of evoking
anything but superficial pop history (1991: 16, 25).

Architecture
Architecture has figured prominently in postmodernism debates: postmodern structures present clear
stylistic contrasts with modern constructions, while
through its practical functions, architecture poses
issues in cultural politics central to postmodern
debates. Modern architecture defined itself as part
of the artistic avant-garde in the 1920s1930s; in
keeping with modernism in painting, sculpture, and
music, it passionately asserted its formalist and experimental character and proudly attuned its forms to
the esthetics of fellow initiates. Henri Le Corbusier,
Bauhaus, Walter Gropius, and the International Style
rejected traditional styles inherited from the past,
especially their tell-tale historical or regional decorative elements, and asserted bold new structures based
on universal geometric components, including square
and cube, cylinder and pyramid, in harmony with
the cubists and abstractionists in painting (Georges
Braque, Pablo Picasso, Fernand Le ger, Piet Mondrian).
In music, as of the 1920s, Austrian composer Arnold
Scho nberg relied on formal and universal principles in
developing a method founded on purely mathematical
rules for combining a series of 12 tones, producing
novel atonal sequences and chords radically different
from established western major and minor keys, their
traditional harmonies and scales, and from conventional genres and compositional principles (cf. Alban
Berg, Anton Webern, Pierre Boulez). At the same time,
achieving economic efficiencies of design and construction, modern architectures simplified forms
also advanced its progressive social agenda by helping
to provide affordable lodging for the new urbanites
generated by modernization. Yet by the 1950s, modernist architecture in the United States had exhausted
both its innovative spirit and its social idealism, and
had become the chic establishment look of power and
success. Throughout the West, its progressive urban
planning had unwittingly produced the social sterility of uniform, ghettoized high-rise modernism, recognized as an international failure (e.g., Pruitt-Igoe in
St. Louis, Sarcelles north of Paris).
The architect Robert Venturi cogently articulated
imaginative alternatives to doctrinaire modernism in
his pioneering book Contradiction and complexity in
architecture (1966), and in designs that juxtaposed
modernism, styles native to the site, and familiar
classical or other historical features. He advances key
postmodernist features over consecrated modernist
traits: I like elements which are hybrid rather than
pure. . . vestigial as well as innovating . . . Im for

Postmodernism 789

messy vitality over obvious unity (Venturi, 1966: 22);


to the modernist Mies van der Rohes minimalist
mantra Less is more, Venturi retorts Less is a
bore. For his Trubek and Wislocki houses on
Nantucket (19711972), Venturi adapted ideas from
the modernist Frank Lloyd Wright, but also incorporated the shingle style native to New England. The
exterior of his Flynt house in Delaware combines
strong modernist geometric simplicity with playfully
oversized, two-dimensional cutouts of ancient Doric
columns surmounted by an arched screen. Inside, an
upstairs music room blends modern structure with
Gothic arches that rhythm an atrium ceiling and
are enlivened by decorative touches ornamentation
ostracized by classic modernism (Scully, 1988: 257
259, Figs. 526527, 530532). Venturi also coauthored with Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour
the iconoclastic Learning from Las Vegas: The forgotten symbolism of architectural form (1972), which
dared to offer an apology for the casino strip widely
considered the Spam and Velveeta of urban design.
The essay reverses a defining feature of modernism
by construing architecture not as cutting-edge art
for the cognoscenti, but as a form of popular culture
with a mission to communicate with the broader
public.
First dubbed The Classical and Vernacular Traditions (Leon Krier), Venturis esthetic of contradiction
and complexity became associated with what architects began calling postmodern in the 1960s1970s
although Venturi himself has always rejected the term.
Charles Jenckss full-blown 1977 manifesto The language of post-modern architecture consecrated the
term and the concept, while the 1980 Venice Biennial
bestowed institutional recognition on the style. As of
the late 1960s, numerous architects produced designs
consonant with Venturis principles, conjugating them
in various tones, including Charles Moore, Aldo
Rossi, and Robert Stern (cf. Frank Gehrys house
analyzed in Jameson, 1991: 107129). Neoclassical
designs inspired from Barcelona Beaux-Arts and
18th-century France bring monumental character
and grace to Ricardo Bofills 1985 Le Belvedere
St.-Christophe public housing project in CergyPontoise outside of Paris (Scully, 1988: 266, Fig. 550).
Inverting modernisms monolithic and centralized
strategies, contemporary urban planning strives to
disperse subsidized housing, integrating smaller units
into diverse established neighborhoods. Architect
Bernard Tschumi creates spaces that bring together
different social subgroups and activities rather than
varied historical styles: his project for the Bibliothe`que
Nationale de France thus integrated sports and fitness
facilities into the librarys grounds (cf. his Parc de la
Villette in Paris).

In his 1977 manifesto, Jencks developed Venturis


ideas into principles of eclecticism and a return to historical and geographical inspiration. He elaborated
Venturis notion of contradiction through the concept of double-coding, which he linked to the dialectic of elite and popular culture to emphasize that
rather than offering mere heterogeneity or multiplicity, postmodern architecture is to stage a tension
between modernism and another style such that the
dominant modernist idiom is at once affirmed and
critiqued, subverted and transcended. Associating his
architectural ideas to other cultural trends and
emphasizing its social philosophy, his 1986 What is
post-modernism? avers that the humanistic PostModernist architecture he advocates responds to
the great promise of a plural culture with its many
freedoms, thus surpassing modernisms univalent
formal system (Sim, 2001: 79). Drawing extensively
on semiotics and poststructuralism, Jenckss essays
created a bridge between theory and architecture that
generated extensive circulation in both directions.
At its best, postmodern architecture avoids the
twin poles of slavish revivalism or gratuitous hodgepodge to stage an intelligent, critical, and at times
ironic dialogue among traditions. Yet postmodern
eclecticism also engendered reactionary nostalgia
and collages of decontextualized styles, exemplified
by Philip Johnsons AT&T building in New York,
which features a three-tiered fac ade with Roman
colonnades at the base, Chippendale pediment at the
summit, and neo-classical motifs in between (cf. the
historical quotations worked into Michael Gravess
buildings). Venturis reading of Las Vegas can seem
to align the trend to commercialism. Certain architects and architectural critics avoid the label postmodernism, preferring to say that contemporary
expressions of modern architecture correct
excesses and omissions of the recent past (Scully,
1988: 257).

Art
The art and art criticism of the postmodern period
react to regnant classical modernism and its canonical
formulation by critics such as Clement Greenberg.
For the latter, modern art must be formalist, selfreferential, and medium-specific, and should privilege
media such as painting and sculpture that highlight
the artists individual style, avoiding new technologies
and modes of mechanical reproduction. In the middle
of the last century, Greenberg, Theodor Adorno,
Georg Luka cs, and Jose Ortega y Gasset fought strenuously to free art from the tentacles of commercialism and totalitarian politics (Hopkins, 2000: 2530;
Huyssen, 1986: 197).

790 Postmodernism

Artistic trends of the 1950s1970s adumbrated key


elements of what would develop as postmodernism.
As of the 1960s, the Pop Art of Andy Warhol ravaged the modernist boundaries between art and mass
culture in such spectacular fashion that it remains
the exemplar of the strategy today. Emerging from
the 1960s counterculture, Conceptual Art develops
critical commentary on social practices, favors new
mass media technologies such as video and photography, and creates mixed media works by integrating
text prominently into its visuals. The term postmodern began to be widely used in the 1980s for and
by artists who explore the ideas proposed by such
theorists as Jencks and Jameson, adapt Pop and Conceptual strategies, and find inspiration for fusing
formal experimentation and social engagement in
Dada and surrealism, and in Marcel Duchamps
iconoclastic readymades, off-the-shelf utilitarian
and quotidian objects such as urinals, coat racks,
and snow shovels exhibited as art.
In its introductory statement, the 20042005 Stalemate exhibit at the Chicago Contemporary Museum
of Art defines the sensibility known as postmodernism as the state of being in which ones sense of self is
determined by fluctuating social and cultural codes
such as language or media images rather than by intimate personal experiences (Pamela Alper, curator).
A number of works designated postmodern develop
this idea. In Untitled film stills, a set of 69 self-portraits shot in the later 1970s, New York-based photographer Cindy Sherman uses clothing and accessories
evoking stereotypical societal roles (e.g., housewife,
film star, college coed) to present her self as a creation
of cultural conventions, as a plastic substance molded
by social performances and personae. Furthermore,
by imitating the poses, expressions, and outfits of
female characters in popular movie genres, the photographs short-circuit a purely existential or social portrayal of Sherman as a woman, and instead, in
postmodern fashion, refer to other cultural images
and signs, asserting that representation itself is already pre-coded (via cinematic tropes in this instance) (Hopkins, 2000: 200, Fig. 101).
By juxtaposing a middle-aged white woman on its
left TV screen, and a young African-American man on
the right TV screen, the video Good boy bad
boy in Bruce Naumans installation Chambre dAmis
(1985) draws attention to the cultural constitution
of identities through binary categories such as masculinefeminine, whiteblack, youngold, as theorized
in (post)structuralism. The artificial, verbparadigm
scripts read by the two figures dramatize the construction of behavior through social codes, especially
language (e.g., I was a virtuous woman. You were
a virtuous woman. We were virtuous women. This

was virtue; 20042005 Chicago MCA Stalemate exhibit). Postmodern heterogeneity and appropriation
become particularly effective when they mobilize the
cultural and historical specificity of components
forming the subjects identity. Jimmie Durhams
1985 installation Bedias stirring wheel thus combines
Western Plains Indian iconography (e.g., beaded belts,
animal skull) with generic North American cultural
realia (automobile steering wheel, hub, and hubcap)
to portray his Native American identity today as a
bricolage of the traditional and the contemporary,
of minority and dominant cultures (Hopkins, 2000:
221222, Fig. 115; cf. Achille Bonito Olivias transavantgarde, Appignanesi, 1989: 111113). Durhams
accompanying text wryly critiques Western studies of
primitive peoples and the modern, imperialist drive
to dominate and construct its Other as an authentic
folkloric essence.
While each art form exploits specific resources and
variously draws from and reacts against its own predecessors, postmodern cultural productions in the
three fields studied assert multiplicity over unity and
affirm particular historical, ethnic, gendered, and regional forms over abstract universals. They problematize modernisms sharp divide between high and
low culture and realisms notion of mimesis, while
mobilizing art to criticize society and to explore individual identity. Postmodern art and architecture have
both attracted charges of commercialism: British
Conceptualist photographers and critics Victor Burgin
and Mary Kelly thus censure the erotic postmodern
billboard-style paintings and vacuum cleaner installations of Jeff Koons as uncritical commercialism
(M. Newman in Appignanesi,1989: 120122; Hopkins,
2000: 224, Fig. 117).

Postmodern Critique
Four figures played a key role in giving a new impetus and focus to postmodernism in the 1980s: the
French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, the French
poststructuralist philosopher Jean-Franc ois Lyotard,
the second-generation Frankfurt School philosopher
Ju rgen Habermas in Germany, and the American
Marxist literary and cultural critic Fredric Jameson.
Their interventions and critical exchanges greatly
advanced the debate in the realms of philosophy
and social and political theory, eliciting important
developments and responses from figures such as
philosopher Gianni Vattimo, sociologist Zygmunt
Bauman, cultural theorist Paul Virilio, political theorists Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau, geographer Edward Soja, and philosopher of education
Henry Giroux. Together with poststructuralism as
developed by Roland Barthes, He le`ne Cixous, Gilles

Postmodernism 791

Deleuze and Fe lix Guattari, Jacques Derrida, Michel


Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan,
and others, this new momentum in the postmodern
controversy exerted great influence throughout the
human sciences, especially in newer fields, and encouraged interdisciplinary research. In these contexts,
postmodernism designates less often a salutary moment beyond modernism, as it frequently does in
the esthetic sphere. Rather, it engages an array of
technological, economic, and sociocultural changes
that tend to be seen in a neutral light, at best. At
worst, postmodernism is considered to result from
modernizations alienating effects carried to completion and excess, no longer counterbalanced within
or without by opposing energies: Postmodernism
is what you have when the modernization process
is complete and nature is gone for good (Jameson,
1991: ix). Ihab Hassan summarizes the radical postmodernist conception, the public world dissolves as
fact and fiction blend, history becomes derealized by
media into a happening, science takes its own models
as the only accessible reality (1982: 270). The four
figures selected for closer examination here directly
engaged the postmodern debates in the 1980s1990s,
proved very influential in establishing the terms of the
new discussions, and provide a sampling of different
stances on critical issues.
Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillards essays from the mid-1970s1990s,


translated into English as of the 1980s, contend that
contemporary spectacles such as action movies and
TV sports, video games and Disneyland construct a
postmodern hyperreality that is more powerful and
compelling than everyday reality, and whose ecstasy of
communication remakes traditional experience and
action in its image. For Baudrillard, whereas Baroque
trompe loeil counterfeited reality and industrial societys identical, mass-produced commodities masked
reality, postmodern cybernetic and communication
technologies create their own self-replicating conditions for subjectivity, generating simulacra that no
longer even depend on reality. Recycling cliche s and
stereotypes, reproducing propaganda and advertising,
bereft of transcendence and insensible to history or the
natural world, postmodern signs refer not to reality but
merely to other signs, in an endless circulation of
appearances. Whereas production and consumption
structured modern societies, the postmodern society
of simulation is governed by images, conventions,
and conceptual models. Politically, the failure of the
modern eras two principal programs, Marxism
and the Enlightenment, has rendered society incapable
of becoming either a historical or political subject.
Baudrillards analysis articulates a sharp contrast be-

tween modern and postmodern societies, grants a


determining role to new media and technology, confidently specifies the latters cultural, political, and psychological consequences, and paints a wide-ranging,
multi-disciplinary panorama of the new era. While
few scholars cite Baudrillard as an authority today, the
English editions of his works exerted enormous influence during the last two decades of the 20th century.
Jean-Francois Lyotard

In articles and monographs inaugurated by The postmodern condition published in 1979 and translated
into English in 1984, Jean-Franc ois Lyotard wades
into the postmodern controversy as an idiosyncratic
poststructuralist. While his 1979 essay accepts the human sciences linguistic turn, it steers away from
(post)structuralist models focused on the immanent
analysis of language (sign, signifier), and draws instead from two other traditions, narrative semiotics
and, most especially, pragmatics, particularly as formulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein in Philosophical
investigations (19461949). Rather than postulating
signifieds, concepts, or referents, Wittgenstein and
his followers define language directly through action
and social context and work out their own arguments in a clear expository prose. Crucially, rooted in
everyday work and leisure, sociability and care of the
self, Wittgensteins language games appear and disappear throughout history, vary according to milieu
and individual experience, are changing and non-denumerable, and possess family resemblance but
no essence. Lyotard considers Wittgensteins philosophical pragmatics ground-breaking and decisive;
anti-foundationalist, historicized, and decentralizing,
this pragmatics combines with narratology to provide
Lyotard with an accessible version of poststructuralism with a set toward social theory. His essay accentuates the socio-political stakes that Foucault
highlights, but that had tended to remain undercurrents in deconstruction before 1980.
The postmodern condition endeavors to define the
changed status of knowledge, science, and education
in post-1960s Western societies. Lyotard sees the
post-industrial age marked by disbelief in grand narratives, or transcendent metaphysical and political
systems, including the twin philosophies that fashioned education in the modern era, the Enlightenment
project of democratic emancipation that inspired the
development of public elementary schools throughout
the West in the 19th and 20th centuries, and German
idealisms dedication to knowledge and higher learning for their own sake, which engendered great universities during the same period (1979 [1984: 3137]).
Absent such overarching frameworks, Lyotard observes
two sets of little narratives or multifarious local,

792 Postmodernism

occasional, and circumstantial strategies that shape


education and research in the postmodern era: a performative perspective that promotes those positive
sciences and technologies that advance the wealth and
power of the existing social, economic, and political
system and its decision makers (3749), and an alternative impetus that springs from grass-roots praxis,
speech, and communicative interaction when they
mobilize the imagination to invent new language
games, or ways of thinking and acting (41, 52). In the
artistic realm, Lyotard identifies this alternative, inventive mode as the ongoing modernist avant-garde:
its critical distance from society and its radical experimentalism construct its esthetic object as the Kantian
sublime, straining to evoke an idea that cannot yet
be adequately presented. He condemns 20th-century
realism as official art and dismisses Jenckss postmodernist eclecticism as commercialism (1982 text in 1979
[1984: 7581]).
Lyotard frames his views on education and research
within an overall conception of social organization.
Modern and postmodern societies each evince a distinctive morphology and a concomitant mode of conflict. Modern societies invoke terror to resolve
dissension and obtain consensus and thus social
unity; in contrast, decentralized, pluralistic postmodern societies must negotiate differends: open, potential but as yet undefined zones, and incompatibilities
among the many autonomous and mutually incommensurable little narratives. In the absence of higherorder models or rules, paralogies, or parallelisms
between little narratives on the same level, must
provide provisional resolution and legitimation, in
which every consensus is but a moment prior to new
dissent in a continuous, open-ended process (6065;
cf. Just gaming, 1979 and The differend, 1983). Lyotards postmodern recalls his essays on paganism,
which contrast Western monotheism (cf. grand narrative) with ancient polytheism, in which mortals
interact with multiple gods who each enjoy limited,
always renegotiated influence and jurisdiction. The
clarity, breadth, and vigor of Lyotards essays, and
their conjunction of postmodernism, poststructuralism, and sociopolitical issues, have granted them great
influence.
Ju rgen Habermas

In his 1980 essay Modernity versus postmodernity


(also entitled Modernity an incomplete project, in
Natoli and Hutcheon,1993: 91104) and more amply
in 12 lectures published as The philosophical discourse of modernity (1985 [1987]), Ju rgen Habermas

constructs modernity as the Enlightenment project


of emancipation embracing all facets of culture,
and characterizes postmodernism and its underlying
poststructuralism as an unwise rejection of modern
society and a neoconservative return to traditions. In
his view, postmodernists irrationalism and telling
recuperation of the antimoderns Nietzsche and
Heidegger leave them bereft of an effective historical
critique or utopian impulse. Habermas opposes
Foucaults conflation of power and knowledge (1985
[1987: 266293]), contests postmodernist skepticism,
and animadverts upon its radical critique of totalities
and progress. Rather than jettisoning the Enlightenment
project, Habermas proposes to amend it in the light of
the last two and a half centuries: he defines modernitys
concrete humanity through antifoundationalist universalism, and proposes as its chief enabling resource a
pragmatic and intersubjective communicative reason
(rather than individual instrumental reason, 1985
[1987: 294326]; cf. Habermass The theory of communicative action, 1981). He calls for redirecting societal
modernization so as to control the latters autonomous
economic and administrative systems, while emphasizing that it is prudent to remain pessimistic about the
feasibility of significant social reform and of progress in
general. Dismissing the products of the modernist esthetic from Charles Baudelaire to the Surrealists as esoteric
forms created by de-centered subjects alienated from
society, Habermas calls for cultural expressions that will
reintegrate the triad of science, morality, and art, and
bring them to bear upon the enrichment of everyday
life, the rational organization of everyday social life:
Communication processes need a cultural tradition
covering all spherescognitive, moral-practical, and
expressive (Natoli and Hutcheon, 1993: 98, 100).
Habermass close critiques provide an alternative
view of modernity and modernism and draw strength
from the positive, collective project he outlines.
Fredric Jameson

While he admits to being a relatively enthusiastic


consumer of postmodernism in its architecture and
photography, music and poetry (1991: 298), Jameson
remains sympathetic to much of Habermass critique
of poststructuralism and postmodernist theory, even
as he largely accepts Baudrillards characterizations of
contemporary society, which he reformulates in an
analytical approach informed by Marxism and cultural critique, Lacanian psychoanalysis and Sartrean existentialism. In his 19831984 essay Postmodernism
or, the cultural logic of late capitalism (1991: 954)
and in later articles collected in two books published

Postmodernism 793

in the 1990s, Jameson develops his theoretical proposals in detailed analyses of buildings, films, and
fiction, including contrastive descriptions of modern
and postmodern cultural productions (e.g., Vincent
Van Goghs A pair of boots versus Andy Warhols
Diamond dust shoes, 1991: 610). His ambivalence
toward postmodern cultural productions emerges in
his studies of two postmodern structures, the central
lobby of the 1977 Los Angeles Westin Bonaventure
hotel, and the Santa Monica, California home architect Frank Gehry rebuilt for his family in 1979. The
first is described as a fragmented, bewildering, and
manipulative space that exceeds the capacity of the
individual body to locate itself or to process its lifeworld perceptually and cognitively an allegory of
the subjects inability to map the new global, virtual
electronic network in which it finds itself (3845). Yet
the second is depicted as a critique of late-capitalist
society, and as a new spatial language that may allow
its inhabitants to be comfortable in a historically original way, potentially designing a utopian mode of
human interaction (107129).
Turning postmodern suspicion and irony on itself,
Jameson analyzes the stylistic, philosophical, and social characteristics widely attributed to postmodernism as indexes of problems, clues to manipulation,
and symptoms of societal ills. The decentered and
fragmented postmodern life-world points to the
need to reconnect atomized groups the logic of
capitalism is dispersive and disjunctive in the first
place (1991: 100), as uncertainty, indeterminacy, and
ambiguity should prompt a demand for critical clarity
that could enable subjects to recover greater agency
and resistance (xi). Playfulness without purpose, signifiers without signifieds, and surface dynamics without depth all attest to severed vital relations that
must be restored to regain access to meaning and
emotional intensity. The substitution of pastiche for
individual artistic style reveals the undermining of
the individual and the cultural unconscious, as fashion-plate faux-nostalgia in film and video betrays a
lost sense of history. In methodology as in social philosophy, the cultural critic needs connections and
solidarities, not pure differences and deconstruction:
it is diagnostically more productive to have a totalizing concept than to try to make ones way without
one (212). While he regretfully accepts that in the
esthetic realm, the modernist avant-garde and its
enriching strategy of defamiliarization are dead,
Jamesons perspectives on postmodernism depend
crucially on modernist attitudes and analytical concepts. His theoretical formulations and critical studies exerted great influence on English-language
postmodern studies.

Conclusion
In all its phases and arenas, postmodernism has
attracted fierce critics, who accuse it of irrationalism
and nihilism, of gratuitous eclecticism and selfindulgent superficiality. Yet postmodernism transformed artistic expressions in literature and film, art
and architecture, challenging certitudes inherited
from modernism and realism. The postmodernism
debates grapple with the relation of art to society
and the potential political import of art, criticism,
and theory; they highlight the diversity of Western
societies and challenge them to open themselves
wider to minorities and women. Skeptical of claims
to universality and of the desire for homogeneity or
oneness, postmodernists privilege the particularism
of the local and the historical, and assert difference,
especially as inflected by gender, race, and class. In
particular, knowledge is asserted to be specific to
cultural norms, social forces, and individual subject
positions and interests. Postmodernists affirm the
conventional and constructed character of representation, and demystify social and esthetic discourses
claiming a natural, permanent status, from filmic and
fictional realism to positivist history and anthropology. They draw attention to the role of language and
visual codes, whose temporality, rhetoric, and signifiers displace the ideals of pure concepts, referents,
and personal experience. Postmodern theory thus
appears as a skeptical, anti-humanist, and antifoundationalist discourse, which critiques ideas, beliefs,
and institutions central to modern Western civilization, from mimesis to the nation-state, from faith in
reason to belief in progress, from the autonomy of the
individual to the transcendence of universal values,
from the free-market economy to socialist state capitalism (cf. Paul Maltby in Taylor and Winquist, 2001:
302303). In various respects, postmodernism finds
itself at loggerheads with Platonic idealism and Cartesian rationalism; with empiricists, Enlightenment
philosophers, and their positivist descendants; and with
the conservative humanism of a Matthew Arnold.
See also: Barthes, Roland (19151980); Foucault, Michel
(19261984); Lacan, Jacques (19011981); Poststructuralism and Deconstruction; Pragmatics: Overview; Pragmatics and Semantics; Structuralism; Wittgenstein, Ludwig
Josef Johann (18891951).

Bibliography
Appignanesi L (ed.) (1986). Postmodernism. ICA Documents. London: Institute of Contemporary Arts. [Rpt.
London: Free Association Books, 1989.]

794 Postmodernism
Baudrillard J (1981). Simulacres et simulations. Paris: Galile e. [Foss P, Patton P & Beitchman P (trans.). Simulacra
and simulations. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.]
Bertens H & Natoli J (eds.) (2002). Postmodernism: the
key figures. Oxford: Blackwell. [Includes an extensive
bibliography, pp. 334365.]
Calinescu M (1987). Five faces of modernity. Modernism,
avant-garde, decadence, kitsch, postmodernism. Durham,
NC: Duke University Press.
Colas S (1994). Postmodernity in Latin America. The
Argentine paradigm. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Docherty T (ed.) (1993). Postmodernism: a reader. Hemel
Hempstead: Harvester Wheatshaft.
Foster H (ed.) (1983). The anti-esthetic: essays on postmodern culture. Seattle, WA: Bay Press.
Groden M & Kreiswirth M (1994). The Johns Hopkins
guide to literary theory and criticism. Baltimore, MD:
The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Habermas J (1985). Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne. Zwo lf Vorlesungen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp
Vorlag. [Lawrence F (trans.). The philosophical discourse
of modernity. Twelve lectures. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
1987.]
Harvey D (1989). The condition of postmodernity: an
enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Hassan I (1982). The dismemberment of Orpheus. Toward
a postmodern literature (2nd edn.). Madison: University
of Wisconsin Press. [1st edn., 1971.]
Hebdige D (1988). Hiding in the light. London: Routledge.
Hekman S (1990). Gender and knowledge: elements of a
postmodern feminism. Boston: Northeastern University
Press.
Hopkins D (2000). After modern art 19452000. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Hutcheon L (1988). The poetics of postmodernism: history,
theory, fiction. New York: Routledge.
Hutcheon L (1989). The politics of postmodernism.
London: Routledge.

Huyssen A (1986). After the great divide. Modernism, mass


culture, postmodernism. Bloomington: Indiana University
Press.
Jameson F (1991). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic
of late capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Jencks C (1977). The language of post-modern architecture.
London: Academy. [4th rev. edn., 1984.]
Lyotard J-F (1979). La condition postmoderne: rapport sur
le savoir. Paris: Editions de Minuit. [Bennington G &
Massumi B (trans.). The postmodern condition: a report
on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1984.]
McCaffery L (ed.) (1986). Postmodern fiction: a biobiographical guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
McGowan J (1991). Postmodernism and its critics. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press.
McHale B (1987). Postmodernist fiction. London: Methuen.
Natoli J & Hutcheon L (eds.) (1993). A postmodern reader.
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Nicholson L J (ed.). Feminism/postmodernism. London:
Routledge.
Norris C (1990). The truth about postmodernism. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Portoghesi P (1990). Postmodern: larchitettura nella societa` post-industriale. Milan: Electa. [Shapiro E (trans.).
Postmodern, the architecture of the postindustrial society.
New York: Rizzoli, 1983.]
Scully V (1990). American architecture and urbanism
(new rev. edn.). New York: Henry Holt.
Sim S (ed.). The Routledge companion to postmodernism
(new edn.). London: Routledge. [Contains a selected bibliography, pp. 170173.]
Taylor V E & Winquist C E (1990). Encyclopedia of postmodernism. London: Routledge.
Venturi R (1990). Complexity and contradiction in
architecture. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Waugh P (1990). Metafiction: the theory and practice of
self-conscious fiction. London: Methuen.

Poststructuralism and Deconstruction


T F Broden, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN,
USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Poststructuralism gathers together diverse figures


sharing an intellectual family resemblance, including
the literary and cultural critic Roland Barthes, the
philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida,
and the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault.
A number of French intellectuals informed by psychoanalysis critiqued the latters patriarchal biases and
proposed feminist alternatives, including the writer

and essayist He le`ne Cixous, the philosopher Luce


Irigaray, and the psychoanalyst, semiotician, and literary critic Julia Kristeva. Poststructuralists rethink
Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche through 20th-century concepts of language, sign, text, and the speaking subject
adapted from continental structural linguists such as
Saussure, Benveniste, and Jakobson. Poststructuralists
remain deeply skeptical toward claims of universal
truths, the possibility of representation, and the ambitions of modern science, underscoring that knowledge
and experience are mediated by cultural representations, especially via language. Poststructuralism
emphasizes the incidence of language, text, and the

794 Postmodernism
Baudrillard J (1981). Simulacres et simulations. Paris: Galilee. [Foss P, Patton P & Beitchman P (trans.). Simulacra
and simulations. New York: Semiotext(e), 1983.]
Bertens H & Natoli J (eds.) (2002). Postmodernism: the
key figures. Oxford: Blackwell. [Includes an extensive
bibliography, pp. 334365.]
Calinescu M (1987). Five faces of modernity. Modernism,
avant-garde, decadence, kitsch, postmodernism. Durham,
NC: Duke University Press.
Colas S (1994). Postmodernity in Latin America. The
Argentine paradigm. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Docherty T (ed.) (1993). Postmodernism: a reader. Hemel
Hempstead: Harvester Wheatshaft.
Foster H (ed.) (1983). The anti-esthetic: essays on postmodern culture. Seattle, WA: Bay Press.
Groden M & Kreiswirth M (1994). The Johns Hopkins
guide to literary theory and criticism. Baltimore, MD:
The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Habermas J (1985). Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne. Zwolf Vorlesungen. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp
Vorlag. [Lawrence F (trans.). The philosophical discourse
of modernity. Twelve lectures. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
1987.]
Harvey D (1989). The condition of postmodernity: an
enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Hassan I (1982). The dismemberment of Orpheus. Toward
a postmodern literature (2nd edn.). Madison: University
of Wisconsin Press. [1st edn., 1971.]
Hebdige D (1988). Hiding in the light. London: Routledge.
Hekman S (1990). Gender and knowledge: elements of a
postmodern feminism. Boston: Northeastern University
Press.
Hopkins D (2000). After modern art 19452000. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Hutcheon L (1988). The poetics of postmodernism: history,
theory, fiction. New York: Routledge.
Hutcheon L (1989). The politics of postmodernism.
London: Routledge.

Huyssen A (1986). After the great divide. Modernism, mass


culture, postmodernism. Bloomington: Indiana University
Press.
Jameson F (1991). Postmodernism, or, the cultural logic
of late capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Jencks C (1977). The language of post-modern architecture.
London: Academy. [4th rev. edn., 1984.]
Lyotard J-F (1979). La condition postmoderne: rapport sur
le savoir. Paris: Editions de Minuit. [Bennington G &
Massumi B (trans.). The postmodern condition: a report
on knowledge. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1984.]
McCaffery L (ed.) (1986). Postmodern fiction: a biobiographical guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
McGowan J (1991). Postmodernism and its critics. Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press.
McHale B (1987). Postmodernist fiction. London: Methuen.
Natoli J & Hutcheon L (eds.) (1993). A postmodern reader.
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Nicholson L J (ed.). Feminism/postmodernism. London:
Routledge.
Norris C (1990). The truth about postmodernism. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Portoghesi P (1990). Postmodern: larchitettura nella societa` post-industriale. Milan: Electa. [Shapiro E (trans.).
Postmodern, the architecture of the postindustrial society.
New York: Rizzoli, 1983.]
Scully V (1990). American architecture and urbanism
(new rev. edn.). New York: Henry Holt.
Sim S (ed.). The Routledge companion to postmodernism
(new edn.). London: Routledge. [Contains a selected bibliography, pp. 170173.]
Taylor V E & Winquist C E (1990). Encyclopedia of postmodernism. London: Routledge.
Venturi R (1990). Complexity and contradiction in
architecture. New York: Museum of Modern Art.
Waugh P (1990). Metafiction: the theory and practice of
self-conscious fiction. London: Methuen.

Poststructuralism and Deconstruction


T F Broden, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN,
USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Poststructuralism gathers together diverse figures


sharing an intellectual family resemblance, including
the literary and cultural critic Roland Barthes, the
philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida,
and the philosopher and historian Michel Foucault.
A number of French intellectuals informed by psychoanalysis critiqued the latters patriarchal biases and
proposed feminist alternatives, including the writer

and essayist Hele`ne Cixous, the philosopher Luce


Irigaray, and the psychoanalyst, semiotician, and literary critic Julia Kristeva. Poststructuralists rethink
Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche through 20th-century concepts of language, sign, text, and the speaking subject
adapted from continental structural linguists such as
Saussure, Benveniste, and Jakobson. Poststructuralists
remain deeply skeptical toward claims of universal
truths, the possibility of representation, and the ambitions of modern science, underscoring that knowledge
and experience are mediated by cultural representations, especially via language. Poststructuralism
emphasizes the incidence of language, text, and the

Poststructuralism and Deconstruction 795

body, and values dynamism over stasis, multiplicity


and diffusion over oneness and centeredness.
Although derived from the theoretical writing and
teaching of European figures, especially French, poststructuralism per se developed as an intellectual current in English-speaking countries, especially in the
United States where Derrida and Foucault held academic positions. Derridas years spent at Yale catalyzed the emergence of the Yale critics in literary
criticism: Paul de Man, Geoffrey Hartman, J. Hillis
Miller, and Harold Bloom, a heterogeneous group in
itself. Similarly, at Berkeley, Foucaults collaboration
with Stephen Greenblatt sparked the latters New
Historicism in literary studies. Poststructuralism
became the most influential theoretical current in
North American humanities during the 1970s and
80s, especially in literature, film, and new interdisciplinary fields focused on gender or on ethnicity, and
continues to exert great influence today in queer
theory, cultural studies, postmodern studies, and
postcolonial studies. Poststructuralism has generally
been perceived in France and the rest of Europe as a
peculiarly North American phenomenon.

Structuralism and Poststructuralism


Poststructuralism developed much of the revolutionary impetus of structuralism even as it modulated or
reacted against some of its key objectives. Like structuralists, poststructuralists assert the need to articulate an explicit theoretical approach to issues, since
the point of view determines the object (Saussure),
and since the newness of the approach calls for
methodological exposition and justification. Like
structuralism, poststructuralist research crosses disciplinary borders in formulating its framework and in
establishing strategic connections among areas commonly kept separate, such as language, sexuality, and
politics. Maintaining structuralisms linguistic turn
and its foregrounding of language, poststructuralists
endorse the structuralist decentering of the subject
and the antihumanism associated with such a stance.
In immediate reaction to the elevated status individual consciousness enjoys in phenomenology and existentialism, the (post)structural subject appears as
an effect of multifarious forces within and without,
notably language, the unconscious, and social structures. Structuralisms privileging of the social over the
individual recedes in favor of a balance between
the two instances, however.
On the other hand, poststructuralism critiques
the scientific character of structuralisms project, together with its deontology of objectivity, deploying
instead more speculative and interpretative modes
of inquiry, at times celebrating subjectivity. Specifi-

cally, whereas linguistics served as a pilot science for


structuralism, philosophy filters concepts drawn from
the language sciences and frames questions for poststructuralism: Nietzsche replaces Saussure as chief
intellectual e minence grise, as Derrida and Foucault,
subsequently joined by Deleuze, displace the cultural
authropologist Claude Le vi-Strauss as central contemporary figures. Also counter to the cultivation of
objectivity, many poststructuralists explicitly associate their project with a particular political agenda,
advocating the causes of the Third World, of minorities and women, of gay rights, for example. Poststructuralism contests many of the founding traits
structuralism attributed to its structures, especially
totality and autonomy, giving emphasis instead to
fragmentation, multiplicity, and hybridity. It sharply
repudiates the universalist turn of so much of structuralism in the 1960s, asserting a historical and cultural specificity which radicalizes those of earlier
structuralist research (e.g., Jakobson; cf. Althusser).
Poststructuralism adapts rather than adopts certain
key structuralist moves: it upholds the Saussurean
concept of difference and its founding importance,
while temporalizing it, and giving it a polemical
interpretation. Derrida thus shows that Western
philosophical and scientific essays present speaking
as prior to and dominant over writing (cf. masculine/
feminine). The formalist varieties of structuralist literary criticism underpinned by linguistics give way to
the rhetoric of deconstruction in literary studies
inspired by the Yale critics adaptation of Derrida.

Language, Text, and Body


Through concepts of language, text, and body, poststructuralists seek to develop a theory of the subject in
society that avoids both idealism and a mechanistic
materialism. Poststructuralists conceive of language
as a monist syncretism of the material and the symbolic in which such variables as position in a chain,
rhythm in an activity, or role within an interaction
replace the mind-body duality: every signified is but a
new signifier associated with a preceding signifier,
which will in turn engender with yet another signifier
(cf. Peirces representamen and interpretant).
With the term logocentrism, Derrida critiques the
idealization of logos as pure reason, truth, logic, and
presence, the tenacious belief that we can attain a
level of thinking and existence above and outside of
history and language. His deconstructive readings
aim precisely to show that neither metaphysics nor
the social sciences can formulate their key findings
using a universal organon comparable to algebra or
geometry, but rather must work through a particular
language such as English, Japanese, or Spanish, fram-

796 Poststructuralism and Deconstruction

ing issues through metaphor and figurative language,


negotiating the same etymologies and ambiguities as
sonnets and jokes: If I had to risk a single definition
of deconstruction . . . : plus dune langue more than
one language, no more of only one language (1991:
241). In his landmark essay The pleasure of the text,
Barthes highlights the materiality of language when
he celebrates the sensuous delight of savoring not just
the content but also the (virtual) voice inscribed in the
writerly text, its language lined with flesh, a text
where we can hear the grain of the throat, the patina
of consonants, the voluptuousness of vowels, a whole
carnal stereophony: the articulation of the body, of the
tongue, not that of meaning (1973 [1975: 66]). Poststructuralists such as Lacan, Derrida, and Irigaray
draw attention to the signifier by the very texture
and framing of their own writing: their essay reads
an earlier text (Freud, Plato, Hegel, etc.); their style
shimmers with puns, etymologia, and disrupted syntax; and their printed page displays variable fonts,
pasteups, and novel layouts incorporating multiple
texts within their text. They thus emblematically
assert that any attempt at a scientific, theoretical
metalanguage remains caught up in language.
As language is not a mere instrument to which
homo sapiens has recourse in order to express concepts, neither is it a simple nomenclature mapping
signs to pre-existing objects in the world. Barthes in
literary criticism, and the British Screen group in
cinema studies, argue strenuously that mainstream fiction and movies realism aim to obfuscate the medium
and the conditions of their production in favor of communicating the illusion that the reader/viewer can
grasp the world itself directly. This trompe-loeil erasure of the textual or cinematic work communicates a
mystified reality- effect which naturalizes a historical
situation, and also comforts and reproduces the bourgeois ideology of the autonomous subject. Barthes and
Screen theory instead tout the New Novel, New Wave
cinema, and other avant-garde works which through
metafiction, mise-en-abyme, and violations of narrative and continuity conventions draw attention to their
status as linguistic or filmic product.
Text etymologically tissue, that which is
woven becomes a general poststructuralist term
for any newspaper, poem, or book, film or song,
dance performance or urban space studied as a
human and cultural product mediated by multiple
social symbolic systems. Similarly, Foucault studies
the discourse of unreason and mental illness, of
criminality and sexuality throughout modern history,
aiming to trace the development of social practices
and cultural beliefs and expressions in reference to
events, institutions, and economic structures. He
argues that the institutions and methodological

frameworks for developing knowledge and the criteria for evaluating truth claims necessarily arise
together with the elaboration of particular structures
of power and authority, and that as a result, Truth is
linked in a circular relation with systems of power
which produce and sustain it, and to effects of power
which it induces and which extend it (1984: 74).
Poststructuralists extend existentialists interest in
the human body, studying it as a site of signification
and affect, resistance and identity construction. In
the first section of her Revolution in poetic language,
Kristeva highlights and develops the early, preOedipal stages in which the infant is still psychologically one with the mother. Her analysis argues that
this semiotic period characterized by visual images
and bodily rhythms represents a crucial experience
for the child, and that its influence extends through
the later stages of development in which the individual enters into the symbolic realm of language,
law, and patriarchy (in Leitch, 2001: 21652179).
Although Cixous explicitly defines e criture fe minine
womans writing through gender and not sexual
categories, she describes the process as one in which
those zones of the womans body that are suppressed
and inhibited in society are freed to express themselves (in Leitch, 2001: 20352056). Susan Bordo
emphasizes the role of advertising and the mass
media in elaborating and popularizing the feminine
ideal of the thin body, jeopardizing health and
damaging self-esteem, fostering pathologies of
bulimia and anorexia (in Leitch, 2001: 23602376).

The One and the Many


For poststructuralists, popular and learned notions of
wholeness, unity, and totality often represent erroneous, interested, or self-satisfying images which mask
variegated, conflicted, and opaque situations and
events. For Lacan, in spite of egos vision of itself
as a stable whole, the subject remains different from
itself, divided between presence and absence, conscious and unconscious, the latter designating, as for
the surrealists, a radically other site of mental activity, unspoken and unspeakable, to which consciousness enjoys no direct access, and which resists social
constraint. The split subject nostalgically desires an
illusory and childhood image of completeness that
would reunite its past (conscious) locations to its
present (unconscious) relocation. Theories of gender
and ethnicity informed by poststructuralism at times
celebrate multivalence, heterogeneity, and diversity.
In response to the societal demand to select and perform one term of the binary masculine vs. feminine,
Cixous calls instead for Bisexuality that is to
say the location within oneself of the presence of

Poststructuralism and Deconstruction 797

both sexes, evident and insistent in different ways


according to the individual, the non exclusion of
difference or of a sex (1975 [1986: 85]). Through
the concepts of hybridity and me tissage, Homi
Bhabha and Edouard Glissant valorize the multiethnicity typical of borderlands, Creole cultures, and
(post)colonial spaces.
In the place of the Romantic notion of the artists
unitary oeuvre or the structuralist text-whole closed
system, literary poststructuralists view a text such as
a poem or a novel as an aggregate and fragment
excerpted from a larger context and intertext,
Kristevas term for Bakhtins approach to discourse:
any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations;
any text is the absorption and the transformation of
another. The notion of intertextuality replaces that of
intersubjectivity (1986: 37). The emphasis on language and multiple cultural codes at the expense
of the artist as solitary genius finds its polemical
formulation in the Nietzschean death of the author
announced by Barthes and Foucault.
Poststructuralists critique representations of society as a totality and of history as destiny or evolution.
In his introduction to The archaeology of knowledge,
Foucault thus rejects the categories of cultural totalities and calls instead for a history that studies the
space of a dispersion (cf. his later Nietzschean geneaology; Foucault, 1969 [1995: 15, 10]). Similarly,
his capillary model of power emphasizes that rather
than being centralized or personalized in the State or
a CEO, power is distributed throughout virtually
every member of a body, all of whom objectively
participate in its activities and advance its designs.

Stasis and Kinesis


Poststructuralists view static accounts of individual
and cultural phenomena as failing to account for
change and variability. In contrast to Saussures
spatial definition of difference, and against his separation of synchrony and diachrony, paradigmatics
and syntagmatics, Derrida proposes differance
which brings together difference and deferral, fusing
space and time in temporal movement. Differance
designates the alternative to Husserls derivation of
truth and certainty from a suspended moment
of presence. Whereas Saussure typically presents the
sign as a static and stable dyad (e.g., two sides of a
sheet of paper), poststructuralists emphasize mobility,
slippage, and gaps between signifier and signified,
dislocations which trace sites of free play and undecidability, as North American literary deconstructionists emphasize, and also of dissimulation, of
referentiality in crisis. The poststructuralist emphasis

on nurture over nature goes hand in hand with its


interest in radical social change. Cixouss e criture
fe minine and her notion of writing in general, aims
precisely at serving as a springboard for subversive
thinking, pointing to transforming culture and society
(cf. Butler, 1990; Scott,1988).

See also: Barthes, Roland (19151980); Benveniste, Emile


(19021976); Foucault, Michel (19261984); Freud, Sigmund (18561939); Gender, Grammatical; Gender; Jakobson, Roman (18961982); Lacan, Jacques (19011981);
Levi-Strauss, Claude (b. 1908); Marxist Theories of Language; Psychoanalysis and Language; Saussure, Ferdinand (-Mongin) de (18571913); Structuralism.

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Lacan J (1966). E crits (Paris: Seuil), Sheridan A (trans.).
E crits: a selection. New York: W. W. Norton, 1977.

Leitch V B (ed.) (2001). The Norton anthology of criticism


and theory. New York and London: W. W. Norton.
Marks E & de Courtivron I (eds.) (1981). New French
feminisms. An anthology. New York: Schocken.
Moi T (1985). Sexual/textual politics: feminist literary
theory. London and New York: Methuen.
Penley C (ed.) (1988). Feminism and film theory. London
and New York: Routledge.
Scott J W (1988). Gender and the politics of history. New
York: Columbia University Press.

Potebnja, Alexander (18351891)


N Kerecuk, London, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Alexander Potebnja (or Oleksander O. Potebnia) was


a Ukrainian philosopher of language and mind,
a linguist, a historian of ideas, an editor, and a publisher. Potebnja abandoned his law degree to read
history and philology at the Kharkiv University,
where he would later become a charismatic professor.
There have been many references to his achievements
and originality, as well as varying ideologically
tainted references often repeated in Eastern/Western
accounts in the 19th and 20th centuries. He was
regarded as the most important linguist in the Old
Russian Empire among the three main ones (the other
two being F. F. Fortunatov and I. O. Baudouin de
Courtenay). Potebnja was the inspiration for the
Kharkiv School of linguistics and poetics. The Institute of Linguistics of the Ukrainian Academy of
Sciences is named after him. From 1878 to 1890,
Potebnja was the president of the Kharkiv HistoricalPhilological Society (founded in 1876 and, under
Soviet rule, forced to close in 1919). He was a member
of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences and the
Czech Scientific Society. His wife, Maria Potebnja,
ensured that his original manuscripts were published.
Potebnjas works were a study of the evolution
of human knowledge and consciousness encoded in
language. Indeed, his oeuvre was likened to that of
Darwin. His philosophy encompassed a theory of the
mind, of consciousness, of knowledge, of perception,
of speech acts, of symbolic thinking, of aesthetics.
Literature was included in his theory of language as
part of the whole of language and its functions. He
was critical of positivism. He seems to have sought to
resolve the Cartesian problem of consciousness and
the physical world.

Language is the subjective activity of a cognizing


individual, and it exists only in speech, in the communication within a speech community that shares
history and culture. Mind (dukh intellect and
spirit/soul) in Potebnja should be understood in the
sense of conscious mental activity, higher order
cognizing activity(1862: 37); language is the passage from unconsciousness to consciousness (1862:
37). Every speech act is simultaneously an act of
understanding, of objectivization, of consciousness,
of interpretation of thought, of cognition (1862,
1874, 1888). He stated that many forms of thought
exist and develop without language. However, there
are mental activities that require language. Potebnja
argued that language is necessary for mental activity
so that the mental activity can become conscious
(1862: 37). Man develops the capacities for symbolic
thinking and for language concomitantly. These capacities also enable man to choose to substitute natural
language for symbolic forms of thinking (e.g.,
in mathematics, music, the visual arts). Potebnjas
works were a wide-ranging critical review of thoughts
about language by grammarians, linguists, and philosophers from the pre-Platonic and Aristotelian
traditions in both Western and Eastern Europe to
the 19th century. He was well attuned to thoughts
from other fields of knowledge. He regarded mathematics as fundamental for linguistics as it is for other
sciences, with two underlying concepts of magnitude
and form. He used a number of mathematical concepts: groups/sets, invariance (variant, invariant),
zero marking, commutation, and transformation,
among others. Potebnja argued that in the history
of the development of knowledge, our times are an
example of the interaction of sciences and of choice of
the middle way pathways: linguistics and physiology,
linguistics and psychology, linguistics and history,
psychology and physiology. Il faut cultiver notre

798 Poststructuralism and Deconstruction


Hayward S (2000). Cinema studies. The key concepts (2nd
edn.). London and New York: Routledge.
Hollows J, Hutchings P & Jancovich M (eds.) (2000). The
film studies reader. New York: Oxford University Press/
London: Arnold.
Irigaray L (1991). The Irigaray reader. Whitford M (ed.).
Oxford: Blackwell.
Kristeva J (1997). The portable Kristeva. Oliver K (ed.).
New York: Columbia University Press.
Lacan J (1966). Ecrits (Paris: Seuil), Sheridan A (trans.).
Ecrits: a selection. New York: W. W. Norton, 1977.

Leitch V B (ed.) (2001). The Norton anthology of criticism


and theory. New York and London: W. W. Norton.
Marks E & de Courtivron I (eds.) (1981). New French
feminisms. An anthology. New York: Schocken.
Moi T (1985). Sexual/textual politics: feminist literary
theory. London and New York: Methuen.
Penley C (ed.) (1988). Feminism and film theory. London
and New York: Routledge.
Scott J W (1988). Gender and the politics of history. New
York: Columbia University Press.

Potebnja, Alexander (18351891)


N Kerecuk, London, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Alexander Potebnja (or Oleksander O. Potebnia) was


a Ukrainian philosopher of language and mind,
a linguist, a historian of ideas, an editor, and a publisher. Potebnja abandoned his law degree to read
history and philology at the Kharkiv University,
where he would later become a charismatic professor.
There have been many references to his achievements
and originality, as well as varying ideologically
tainted references often repeated in Eastern/Western
accounts in the 19th and 20th centuries. He was
regarded as the most important linguist in the Old
Russian Empire among the three main ones (the other
two being F. F. Fortunatov and I. O. Baudouin de
Courtenay). Potebnja was the inspiration for the
Kharkiv School of linguistics and poetics. The Institute of Linguistics of the Ukrainian Academy of
Sciences is named after him. From 1878 to 1890,
Potebnja was the president of the Kharkiv HistoricalPhilological Society (founded in 1876 and, under
Soviet rule, forced to close in 1919). He was a member
of the Russian Imperial Academy of Sciences and the
Czech Scientific Society. His wife, Maria Potebnja,
ensured that his original manuscripts were published.
Potebnjas works were a study of the evolution
of human knowledge and consciousness encoded in
language. Indeed, his oeuvre was likened to that of
Darwin. His philosophy encompassed a theory of the
mind, of consciousness, of knowledge, of perception,
of speech acts, of symbolic thinking, of aesthetics.
Literature was included in his theory of language as
part of the whole of language and its functions. He
was critical of positivism. He seems to have sought to
resolve the Cartesian problem of consciousness and
the physical world.

Language is the subjective activity of a cognizing


individual, and it exists only in speech, in the communication within a speech community that shares
history and culture. Mind (dukh intellect and
spirit/soul) in Potebnja should be understood in the
sense of conscious mental activity, higher order
cognizing activity(1862: 37); language is the passage from unconsciousness to consciousness (1862:
37). Every speech act is simultaneously an act of
understanding, of objectivization, of consciousness,
of interpretation of thought, of cognition (1862,
1874, 1888). He stated that many forms of thought
exist and develop without language. However, there
are mental activities that require language. Potebnja
argued that language is necessary for mental activity
so that the mental activity can become conscious
(1862: 37). Man develops the capacities for symbolic
thinking and for language concomitantly. These capacities also enable man to choose to substitute natural
language for symbolic forms of thinking (e.g.,
in mathematics, music, the visual arts). Potebnjas
works were a wide-ranging critical review of thoughts
about language by grammarians, linguists, and philosophers from the pre-Platonic and Aristotelian
traditions in both Western and Eastern Europe to
the 19th century. He was well attuned to thoughts
from other fields of knowledge. He regarded mathematics as fundamental for linguistics as it is for other
sciences, with two underlying concepts of magnitude
and form. He used a number of mathematical concepts: groups/sets, invariance (variant, invariant),
zero marking, commutation, and transformation,
among others. Potebnja argued that in the history
of the development of knowledge, our times are an
example of the interaction of sciences and of choice of
the middle way pathways: linguistics and physiology,
linguistics and psychology, linguistics and history,
psychology and physiology. Il faut cultiver notre

Potebnja, Alexander (18351891) 799

jardin [quote is from Voltaires Candide]. In this way


we will cross-fertilize adjacent fields (1905/
1970:114).
A sophisticated theory of signs and semiotics was
contained in his theories. For example, he argued that
every word consists of three elements: (i) the unity
of the articulate sounds, i.e. the external sign of
meaning; (ii) representation, i.e. the internal sign
of meaning and (iii) the meaning itself (Potebnjas
emphasis). In his works, the term word was often
interchangeable with language as faculty, competence. Equally, the term etymology stood for what
would be termed semantics when the latter was
coined in the last decade of the 19th century.
Potebnja argued for a separation, in an innovative way, of the inherited amalgamation of logic and
language, postulating the psychological sentence in
opposition to the proposition of logic (1874). His
works contained both an account of the parts of
speech and a history of the evolution of the IndoEuropean sentence a comprehensive Thesaurus
syntacticus (1874, 1888, 1941, 1958).
Childrens language acquisition was an essential
axiom in his theory. As a linguist has no access to
how language is formed, nor is it possible to remember how one acquired language as a child, Potebnja
postulated instead the observation of child language
acquisition. For him the development of language in
the child was a process accompanied by conscious
thinking that at the same time was symbolic and
was cognitive development.
His writings were characterized by a lack of jargon
and by his use of memorable metaphors (e.g., triangle, shroud, spider web and weaving, chessboard).
His works on linguistics were centered on Ukrainian
at the time of secret Imperial Russian edicts against
Ukrainian. It is worth noting that the word
Great Russian was used for 19th-century Russian;
therefore, in Potebnja, Russian should be read as
East Slavic.
His seminal Thought and language (1862) offered
a critique of the earlier language theories, and he
elected Humboldt as a point of departure for the
development of his own philosophy and theory of
language. However, he did not limit himself to
Humboldt, using in addition much of the received
and contemporary scholarship. He was credited with
introducing Humboldt to the Old Russian Empire.
Potebnjas influence was significant among students, followers, critics, and borrowers in both the
former Soviet Union and the West in such fields as
linguistics, philosophy, literature, aesthetics, semiotics, psychology, music, and ethnoscience. Much
of his work foreshadowed, for example, that of
Sapir-Whorf, Croce, and Vossler. Vygotsky borrowed

liberally from Potebnja (especially in Mysl i Rech,


Theory of psychology of art), Kristeva spoke about
Potebnjas role in discourse analysis and pragmatics,
and Jakobson was allegedly his advocate and even
gave a lecture about Potebnja at Harvard.
See also: Humboldt, Wilhelm von (17671835); Jakobson,
Roman (18961982); Language Development: Overview;
Language of Thought; Trubetskoy, Nikolai Sergeievich,
Prince (18901938); Weber, Albrecht Friedrich (1825
1901).

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800 Potebnja, Alexander (18351891)


Oljanc yn D (1928). Hryhorij Skoworoda 17221794. Der
ukrainische Philosoph des XVIII. Jahrhunderts und seine
geistig-kulturelle Umwelt. [section on Potebnia]. Berlin:
Ost-Europa Verlag.
Ovsianiko-Kulikovskyi D N (1923). Vospominania. Petrograd: Vremia.
Potebnia O O (1862/in press). Thought and language.
Kerecuk N (trans.). [Annotated translation (English
and Portuguese), including full bibliography.]
Potebnja A A (1862). Mysl i iazyk. Zhurnal Ministerstva
Narodnago Prosveshcheniia Sanktpeterburg: Tipografiia Iosafata Ogrizko, ch. 113 otd. II, s. 1118; ch. 114,
otd. II, s. 133, 89131 [separate reprint, Saint Petersburg, 191pp., Reprinted with additions 1892, 1913,
1922, 1926].
Potebnja A A (1870). Zametki o malorusskom narechii
Filologicheskiia Zapiski, vyp. I, s. 136; vip. II, s. 3776;
vyp IV, s. 77100; vyp. V, s. 101134 [separate reprint
1871 Voronezh].
Potebnja A A (1873). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
1. Filologicheskiia Zapiski vyp. IVV, 1100; vyp. VI.
101158.
Potebnja A A (1874). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
II, Sostavnye chleny Predlozhenii i ikh zameny v russkom
iazyke. Zapiski Kharkovskogo Universiteta, Kharkkov,
t.I. VI540 III549 [separate reprint Kharkov, 549pp].
Potebnja A A (1888). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke I
Vvedenie; II, Sostavnye chleny predlozheniia I ikh
zameny v russkom iazyke. Izdanie 2-e, ispravlennoe i
dopolnenoe. Kharkov: Izdanie Knizhnago Magazina
D. N. Poluekhtova. 535VI [This is a revised and complete edition by O. Potebnia of the 18734 publications;
reprinted 1958 Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe uchebnopedagogicheskoe izdatel stvo Ministerstva prosveshcheniia RSFSR, 536pp.]
Potebnja A A (1878). U ber einige Erscheinungsarten des
slavischen Palatalismus. Archiv fu r slavische Philologie
III, 358381.
Potebnja A A (1894). Iz lektsii po teorii slovesnosty: Basnia.
Poslovitsia. Pogovorka. Kharkov: Tipografiia K.
Schasni, s. 168 [reprinted 1914, 1930, translated into
Ukrainian 1930 and in the West reprinted as a facsimile
in 1970 (ed.) C. H. Van Schooneveld Slavistics Printings
and Re-printings., 150. The Hague, Paris: Mouton.]

Potebnja A A (1899). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke


III. Izdanie M. V. Potebni. Kharkov, s. 663 [reprinted in
1968 Moskva: Prosveshchenie, 552pp with foreword and
index.]
Potebnja A A (1905). Iz zapysok po teorii slovesnosti (Poeziia i proza. Tropy i figury. Myshleniie poeticheskoe i
mificheskoe. Kharkov: Parovaia Tipografiia i Litografiia
M. Zil berberg i S-via., 652pp. [Posthumously edited by
Maria V Potebnia, reprinted as a facsimile in the West in
1970 (ed.) C. H. Van Schooneveld. Slavistics Printings
and Re-printings, 128. The Hague, Paris: Mouton.]
Potebnja A A (1914). Potebnja M V (ed.) I. O nekotorykh
simvolakh v slavianskoi narodnoi poesii. II. O vsiazi
nekotorykh predstavlenii v iazyke. III. O kupalskikh
ogniakhi i srodnykh s nimi predstavleniiakh. IV. O dole
i srodnykh s neiu sushchestvakh Kharkov: Tipografiia
Mirnyi trud. 243s. [First part is the 1860 original reprinted in this edition by Maria Potebnia.]
Potebnja A A (1941). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
IV. Moskva-Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk
SSSR, s. 3182.
Potebnja A A (1870). Zametki o malorusskom narechii
Filologicheskiia Zapiski, vyp. I, s.136; vip. II, s.3776;
vyp IV, s. 77100; vyp. V, s. 101134 [separate reprint
1871 Voronezh].
Robbins D (ed.) (1999). The collected works of L. S.
Vygotsky: Scientific legacy (vol. 6). (Cognition and language: A series in psycholinguistics.) New York: Kluwer
Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Shevelov G Y (1956). Alexander Potebnja as a linguist.
Annals of the Ukrainian, Academy of Arts and Sciences
in the United States 5(23), 11121127.
Vygotsky L S (1937). Myshlenie i rech. Cambridge, MA:
MIT [Translated in 1962 by E. Hanfmann and G. Vakar].
Vygotsky L S (1965). Psichologiya iskusstva [first published
in Russian in 1965 in abridged form and the second one,
1968 is the preferred version, based on his 1925 Ph.D.
dissertation].
Vygotsky L S (1968). Psichologiya iskusstva. Moskva:
Iskustvo.
Wakulenko S (2000). Potebnia, Oleksand(e)r. In
Colombat B & Lazcano E (eds.) Histoire E piste mologie
Language. Corpus repre sentatif des grammaires et des
traditions linguistic (tome 2), Hors-se rie n 3. 417419.

Pott, August Friedrich (18021887)


R Schmitt, Laboe, Germany
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The founder of modern scientific etymology, August


Friedrich Pott, was born the son of a pastor on November 14, 1802, in Nettelrede near Bad Mu nder. Having
studied philology and philosophy at the University of
Go ttingen, he obtained his doctorate there in 1827

with a thesis (still deeply rooted in old-fashioned philosophical grammar) about the relations expressed by
prepositions. After that he took up Indo-European
studies with Franz Bopp in Berlin and became a lecturer there in 1830. He was appointed extraordinary
professor of general linguistics in Halle in 1833 and
promoted to full professor in 1838. He was loyal to the
University of Halle until his death on July 5, 1887.

800 Potebnja, Alexander (18351891)


Oljancyn D (1928). Hryhorij Skoworoda 17221794. Der
ukrainische Philosoph des XVIII. Jahrhunderts und seine
geistig-kulturelle Umwelt. [section on Potebnia]. Berlin:
Ost-Europa Verlag.
Ovsianiko-Kulikovskyi D N (1923). Vospominania. Petrograd: Vremia.
Potebnia O O (1862/in press). Thought and language.
Kerecuk N (trans.). [Annotated translation (English
and Portuguese), including full bibliography.]
Potebnja A A (1862). Mysl i iazyk. Zhurnal Ministerstva
Narodnago Prosveshcheniia Sanktpeterburg: Tipografiia Iosafata Ogrizko, ch. 113 otd. II, s. 1118; ch. 114,
otd. II, s. 133, 89131 [separate reprint, Saint Petersburg, 191pp., Reprinted with additions 1892, 1913,
1922, 1926].
Potebnja A A (1870). Zametki o malorusskom narechii
Filologicheskiia Zapiski, vyp. I, s. 136; vip. II, s. 3776;
vyp IV, s. 77100; vyp. V, s. 101134 [separate reprint
1871 Voronezh].
Potebnja A A (1873). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
1. Filologicheskiia Zapiski vyp. IVV, 1100; vyp. VI.
101158.
Potebnja A A (1874). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
II, Sostavnye chleny Predlozhenii i ikh zameny v russkom
iazyke. Zapiski Kharkovskogo Universiteta, Kharkkov,
t.I. VI540 III549 [separate reprint Kharkov, 549pp].
Potebnja A A (1888). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke I
Vvedenie; II, Sostavnye chleny predlozheniia I ikh
zameny v russkom iazyke. Izdanie 2-e, ispravlennoe i
dopolnenoe. Kharkov: Izdanie Knizhnago Magazina
D. N. Poluekhtova. 535VI [This is a revised and complete edition by O. Potebnia of the 18734 publications;
reprinted 1958 Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe uchebnopedagogicheskoe izdatel stvo Ministerstva prosveshcheniia RSFSR, 536pp.]
Potebnja A A (1878). Uber einige Erscheinungsarten des
slavischen Palatalismus. Archiv fur slavische Philologie
III, 358381.
Potebnja A A (1894). Iz lektsii po teorii slovesnosty: Basnia.
Poslovitsia. Pogovorka. Kharkov: Tipografiia K.
Schasni, s. 168 [reprinted 1914, 1930, translated into
Ukrainian 1930 and in the West reprinted as a facsimile
in 1970 (ed.) C. H. Van Schooneveld Slavistics Printings
and Re-printings., 150. The Hague, Paris: Mouton.]

Potebnja A A (1899). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke


III. Izdanie M. V. Potebni. Kharkov, s. 663 [reprinted in
1968 Moskva: Prosveshchenie, 552pp with foreword and
index.]
Potebnja A A (1905). Iz zapysok po teorii slovesnosti (Poeziia i proza. Tropy i figury. Myshleniie poeticheskoe i
mificheskoe. Kharkov: Parovaia Tipografiia i Litografiia
M. Zil berberg i S-via., 652pp. [Posthumously edited by
Maria V Potebnia, reprinted as a facsimile in the West in
1970 (ed.) C. H. Van Schooneveld. Slavistics Printings
and Re-printings, 128. The Hague, Paris: Mouton.]
Potebnja A A (1914). Potebnja M V (ed.) I. O nekotorykh
simvolakh v slavianskoi narodnoi poesii. II. O vsiazi
nekotorykh predstavlenii v iazyke. III. O kupalskikh
ogniakhi i srodnykh s nimi predstavleniiakh. IV. O dole
i srodnykh s neiu sushchestvakh Kharkov: Tipografiia
Mirnyi trud. 243s. [First part is the 1860 original reprinted in this edition by Maria Potebnia.]
Potebnja A A (1941). Iz zapysok po russkoi grammatyke
IV. Moskva-Leningrad: Izdatelstvo Akademii Nauk
SSSR, s. 3182.
Potebnja A A (1870). Zametki o malorusskom narechii
Filologicheskiia Zapiski, vyp. I, s.136; vip. II, s.3776;
vyp IV, s. 77100; vyp. V, s. 101134 [separate reprint
1871 Voronezh].
Robbins D (ed.) (1999). The collected works of L. S.
Vygotsky: Scientific legacy (vol. 6). (Cognition and language: A series in psycholinguistics.) New York: Kluwer
Academic/Plenum Publishers.
Shevelov G Y (1956). Alexander Potebnja as a linguist.
Annals of the Ukrainian, Academy of Arts and Sciences
in the United States 5(23), 11121127.
Vygotsky L S (1937). Myshlenie i rech. Cambridge, MA:
MIT [Translated in 1962 by E. Hanfmann and G. Vakar].
Vygotsky L S (1965). Psichologiya iskusstva [first published
in Russian in 1965 in abridged form and the second one,
1968 is the preferred version, based on his 1925 Ph.D.
dissertation].
Vygotsky L S (1968). Psichologiya iskusstva. Moskva:
Iskustvo.
Wakulenko S (2000). Potebnia, Oleksand(e)r. In
Colombat B & Lazcano E (eds.) Histoire Epistemologie
Language. Corpus representatif des grammaires et des
traditions linguistic (tome 2), Hors-serie n 3. 417419.

Pott, August Friedrich (18021887)


R Schmitt, Laboe, Germany
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The founder of modern scientific etymology, August


Friedrich Pott, was born the son of a pastor on November 14, 1802, in Nettelrede near Bad Munder. Having
studied philology and philosophy at the University of
Gottingen, he obtained his doctorate there in 1827

with a thesis (still deeply rooted in old-fashioned philosophical grammar) about the relations expressed by
prepositions. After that he took up Indo-European
studies with Franz Bopp in Berlin and became a lecturer there in 1830. He was appointed extraordinary
professor of general linguistics in Halle in 1833 and
promoted to full professor in 1838. He was loyal to the
University of Halle until his death on July 5, 1887.

Pott, August Friedrich (18021887) 801

His first major work, the two volumes of Etymologische Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der IndoGermanischen Sprachen (18331836) is concerned
with comparing the lexical stock of the Indo-European
languages and, at the same time, observing the regular
phonological correspondences among them. By this
two-track approach he put etymology on a firm methodological basis and also founded the comparative
historical phonology of the Indo-European languages.
But while Pott was still alive, the subsequent development of Indo-European studies went far beyond the
foundations laid by him specifically with regard to
phonology, owing mainly to the progress made possible
by the principles of the Neogrammarians postulating
that sound laws operate without exceptions.
Quite early, and presumably under the influence of
Wilhelm von Humboldt in this approach, Pott tried to
familiarize himself with all the worldwide languages
and language families for which he could obtain
printed materials. Thus he abandoned the restriction
on Indo-European languages and, being far ahead of
his time, turned to truly universal linguistic studies.
These studies enabled him to arrive at an overall
(mainly bibliographical) survey of general linguistics
that was published in the serial Einleitung in die allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (18841890) and in the
summarily Zur Litteratur der Sprachenkunde Europas
(1887), both of which were reprinted together in Pott
(1974).
Moreover, Pott did pioneering work on the gypsies
and their Romany (Romani) language, and by his Die
Zigeuner in Europa und Asien (2 vols.) (18441845),
he created a firm scholarly basis for such studies. He
had also developed a penchant for studying modern
languages such as Kurdish, Latvian, and even the
Bantu languages, whose relationship he reliably documented. Pott followed Humboldts approach toward
linguistic research without linguistic boundaries by
dealing with particular grammatical categories, with
phenomena such as reduplication and gemination,
with proper names in general, or with numerals
and especially the quinary and vigesimal systems of
counting (1868). Furthermore, he published a new
annotated edition of Humboldts Ueber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues, with an

introduction providing a comprehensive appreciation


of Humboldt as a general linguist (1876).
See also: Bopp, Franz (17911867); Etymology; Humboldt,
Wilhelm von (17671835); IndoEuropean Languages;
Linguistic Universals, Greenbergian; Neogrammarians;
Romani.

Bibliography
Horn P (1888). August Friedrich Pott. In Beitra ge zur
Kunde der indogermanischen Sprachen 13. 317341.
Leopold J (1983). The letter liveth: the life, work and library of August Friedrich Pott (18021887). Amsterdam/
Philadelphia: Benjamins.
Plank F (1996). Pott, August Friedrich. In Lexicon grammaticorum: whos who in the history of world linguistics.
Tu bingen: Niemeyer. 749750.
Pott A F (18331836). Etymologische Forschungen auf
dem Gebiete der Indo-Germanischen Sprachen. Lemgo:
Meyer. [Repr. 1977; 2nd edn. in 5 vols & 9 parts (1859
1873).]
Pott A F (18441845). Die Zigeuner in Europa und Asien
(2 vols). Halle: Heynemann.
Pott A F (1868). Die Sprachverschiedenheit in Europa
an den Zahlwo rtern nachgewiesen sowie die
quina re und vigesimale Za hlmethode. Halle: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses. [Repr. (1971). Amsterdam:
Rodopi.]
Pott A F (ed.) (1876). Wilhelm von Humboldt, Ueber die
Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren
Einfluss auf die geistige Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts. Mit erla uternden Anmerkungen und Excursen
sowie als Einleitung: Wilhelm von Humboldt und die
Sprachwissenschaft (2 vols). Berlin: Calvary. [2nd edn.
(1880); repr. (1974). Hildesheim: Olms.]
Pott A F (18841890). Einleitung in die allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft. Internationale Zeitschrift fu r allgemeine
Sprachwissenschaft 1, 168 and 329354; 2, 54115,
and 209251; 3, 110126, and 249275; 4, 6796; 5,
318. [Repr. in Pott (1974).]
Pott A F (1887). Zur Litteratur der Sprachenkunde Europas. Leipzig: Barth. [Repr. in Pott (1974).]
Pott A F (1974). Einleitung in die allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft. Newly edited . . . by E. F. K. Koerner.
Amsterdam: Benjamins. [Contains a preface by the editor,
Horn (1888), and reprints of Pott (1887) as well as Pott
(18841890).]

802 Pound, Louise (18721958)

Pound, Louise (18721958)


C Eble, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill,
NC, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Louise Pound (18721958) was largely responsible


for making American speech and folklore respectable
areas of scholarly research and writing. Born on the
American frontier in Lincoln just 5 years after
Nebraska achieved statehood, Pounds long and productive life was characterized by a pioneering spirit.
Along with her older brother Roscoe (later Dean of
Harvard Law School) and younger sister Olivia,
Pound was educated at home by her mother until
she could enter the University of Nebraskas 2-year
preparatory school. At the coeducational state university in her hometown where Pound received a
Bachelors degree (1892) and a Masters degree (1895)
and later taught for 50 years, she excelled in everything. Throughout her life, she was known in Lincoln
for her energy, wit, and competitive spirit. She was
in great demand as a public speaker, lecturing on
British and American language, folklore, and literature to civic organizations, teachers associations, and
groups such as the American Association of University Women, on whose national board she served for
years. A life-long athlete, Pound excelled in figure
skating, cycling, tennis, and golf and was the first
woman elected to the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.
Pound began advanced study of the early periods of
English language and literature in the summers at the
University of Chicago but soon decided that earning
a doctorate in philology from a German university
would be more exciting and quicker. Pound received
her Ph.D. in 1900 from the University of Heidelberg
after only two semesters, studying under the direction
of Johannes Hoops and writing a dissertation on
the comparison of adjectives in late Middle English.
With a strong foundation in its linguistic and literary

antecedents in Great Britain, Pound began to observe


and publish on American English.
In the 1920s, when she was in her fifties, she was
probably the most prominent woman academic in
America. In 1921, her Poetic origins and the ballad
disproved the commonly held belief that ballads arose
communally. She served as vice president of the Modern
Language Association in 1925 and president of the
American Folklore Society in 19251927, and in 1924
supported the founding of the Linguistic Society
of America. With the influential backing of H. L.
Mencken, whom she had helped with revisions to his
best-selling American language, and editorial assistance
from her former student Arthur G. Kennedy, Pound
founded the journal American Speech in 1925 and
was its editor for the first 5 years. (American Speech
is now the official journal of the American Dialect
Society, published quarterly by Duke University
Press.) In 1928, Pound represented the United States
as one of nine delegates to a conference in London
to consider establishing an International Council for
English. In the 1920s, Pound began a long term on the
advisory board of American Literature, published numerous articles, master-minded textbook projects, and
taught summer school at the University of California
at Berkeley, Yale University, and the University of
Chicago.
In 1955, at eighty-three, Louise Pound was elected
the first woman president of the Modern Language
Association.
See also: Mencken, Henry Louis (18801956); Oral Tradi-

tions and Spoken Discourse.

Bibliography
Pound L (1949). Selected writings. Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press.

Power and Pragmatics 1

Poutsma, Hendrik (18561937)


R Supheert, Utrecht University, Utrecht,
The Netherlands
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Hendrik Poutsma, one of the leading Dutch Anglicists


of the early 20th century, was born in Gorredijk, the
Netherlands, on December 7, 1856, the son of a headmaster of a municipal primary school. He began his
career as a primary school teacher but qualified for a
secondary school teaching certificate in English after
a stay in England. This marked the beginning of a
lifelong career as English master at a number of
Dutch secondary schools. Poutsmas education and
career mirror those of many early Anglicists in the
Netherlands, which knew no tradition of English
studies at the university level until 1886, when the
first chair of English was established at the University
of Groningen.
Poutsmas magnum opus is a multivolume, 3200page grammar of English, published over a period of
22 years, intended for continental, and notably Dutch,
students of English: the Grammar of late modern
English. It offers a highly detailed and systematic
description of English grammar. In his preface to
the first edition, Poutsma professes to focus on the
language of the last 200 years, but in fact he bases his
description on a huge corpus of examples, also included in the book, ranging from Chaucer to contemporary newspapers, with 19th-century poets and
novelists taking pride of place. Because of its sheer
size, the Grammar is a reference work rather than a
textbook. A more practical enterprise is Do you speak
English?, which saw six editions between 1893 and

1930, and offers English vocabulary with Dutch


translations. It provided some of the material for
Ten Bruggencates authoritative DutchEnglish dictionary.
Although Poutsma did not train or teach at university and emphatically based his analysis on specimens
of actual written language, his grammar is theoretical and complex. His framework of references
shows that he placed his work within the context
of theoreticians such as O. Jespersen and H. Sweet.
E. Kruisinga, fellow Dutch Anglicist and Poutsmas
junior by 19 years, is warmly acknowledged in the
preface to part I of the second edition of the Grammar
(1928). The Grammar was criticized for paying little
attention to phonetics and word formation, and for
overstepping the boundary between synchronic and
diachronic syntax, but was nevertheless used at universities in Europe and America. Dutch appreciation
for Poutsmas massive contribution to English language studies in 1932 was expressed with a honorary
doctorate from the University of Amsterdam.
See also: Jespersen, Otto (18601943); Kruisinga, Etsko
(18751944); Sweet, Henry (18451912); English in the
Present Day (since ca. 1900).

Bibliography
Poutsma H (1893). Do you speak English? Amsterdam:
Stemler.
Poutsma H (19041926). A grammar of late modern
English. Groningen: Noordhoff.
Stuurman F (1993). English masters and their era.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Power and Pragmatics


J Wilson, University of Ulster at Jordanstown,
Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
Pragmatics is concerned with meaning in the context
of language use. Basically, when we communicate
through language we often mean more than we say;
there is often a gap between speaker meaning and
sentence meaning. For example, why is it that we
interpret Can you pass the salt? as a request and not
simply a question? Why do we tend to interpret John

has three children as meaning no more than three


children? Why, when we say some of the boys came
to the party, do we know that not all of the boys
came to the party? And why do we find that certain
utterances are paired, such as greeting/greeting, question/answer, or request/response? Pragmatic theories attempt to explain this knowledge by seeing
communication as a process of rational and reasoned
interpretation, which draws not only on linguistic
structure but also shared and world knowledge, cultural norms, and individual components of specific
interactional contexts (see Levinson, 1983, 2000;
Sperber and Wilson, 1995; Yule, 1998; Mey, 2001;

Power and Pragmatics 1

Poutsma, Hendrik (18561937)


R Supheert, Utrecht University, Utrecht,
The Netherlands
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Hendrik Poutsma, one of the leading Dutch Anglicists


of the early 20th century, was born in Gorredijk, the
Netherlands, on December 7, 1856, the son of a headmaster of a municipal primary school. He began his
career as a primary school teacher but qualified for a
secondary school teaching certificate in English after
a stay in England. This marked the beginning of a
lifelong career as English master at a number of
Dutch secondary schools. Poutsmas education and
career mirror those of many early Anglicists in the
Netherlands, which knew no tradition of English
studies at the university level until 1886, when the
first chair of English was established at the University
of Groningen.
Poutsmas magnum opus is a multivolume, 3200page grammar of English, published over a period of
22 years, intended for continental, and notably Dutch,
students of English: the Grammar of late modern
English. It offers a highly detailed and systematic
description of English grammar. In his preface to
the first edition, Poutsma professes to focus on the
language of the last 200 years, but in fact he bases his
description on a huge corpus of examples, also included in the book, ranging from Chaucer to contemporary newspapers, with 19th-century poets and
novelists taking pride of place. Because of its sheer
size, the Grammar is a reference work rather than a
textbook. A more practical enterprise is Do you speak
English?, which saw six editions between 1893 and

1930, and offers English vocabulary with Dutch


translations. It provided some of the material for
Ten Bruggencates authoritative DutchEnglish dictionary.
Although Poutsma did not train or teach at university and emphatically based his analysis on specimens
of actual written language, his grammar is theoretical and complex. His framework of references
shows that he placed his work within the context
of theoreticians such as O. Jespersen and H. Sweet.
E. Kruisinga, fellow Dutch Anglicist and Poutsmas
junior by 19 years, is warmly acknowledged in the
preface to part I of the second edition of the Grammar
(1928). The Grammar was criticized for paying little
attention to phonetics and word formation, and for
overstepping the boundary between synchronic and
diachronic syntax, but was nevertheless used at universities in Europe and America. Dutch appreciation
for Poutsmas massive contribution to English language studies in 1932 was expressed with a honorary
doctorate from the University of Amsterdam.
See also: Jespersen, Otto (18601943); Kruisinga, Etsko
(18751944); Sweet, Henry (18451912); English in the
Present Day (since ca. 1900).

Bibliography
Poutsma H (1893). Do you speak English? Amsterdam:
Stemler.
Poutsma H (19041926). A grammar of late modern
English. Groningen: Noordhoff.
Stuurman F (1993). English masters and their era.
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Power and Pragmatics


J Wilson, University of Ulster at Jordanstown,
Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
Pragmatics is concerned with meaning in the context
of language use. Basically, when we communicate
through language we often mean more than we say;
there is often a gap between speaker meaning and
sentence meaning. For example, why is it that we
interpret Can you pass the salt? as a request and not
simply a question? Why do we tend to interpret John

has three children as meaning no more than three


children? Why, when we say some of the boys came
to the party, do we know that not all of the boys
came to the party? And why do we find that certain
utterances are paired, such as greeting/greeting, question/answer, or request/response? Pragmatic theories attempt to explain this knowledge by seeing
communication as a process of rational and reasoned
interpretation, which draws not only on linguistic
structure but also shared and world knowledge, cultural norms, and individual components of specific
interactional contexts (see Levinson, 1983, 2000;
Sperber and Wilson, 1995; Yule, 1998; Mey, 2001;

2 Power and Pragmatics

Blakemore, 1992). The question we want to consider


here is how this view of human communication is
related to the operation of power in society.

Pragmatics, Power, and Language


Pragmatics is recognized as a branch of language
study and in recent times the operationalization of
power within, or through, the use of language in
society has become a central concern of discourse
analysis, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics. Textbooks
are now giving specific emphasis to the area (see
Mesthrie et al., 2000) and there are emergent
branches of study, such as critical linguistics, critical
discourse analysis, or critical sociolinguistics (see
Fairclough, 2001; Wodak, 1996; Talbot et al.,
2003), where it is the analysis of power within
linguistic practices that is the core focus. The term
critical links these approaches closely with social
theory and their central aim is to demystify the way
in which language operates in society. The term
power is not always easily defined, however (see
Thornborrow, 2001). Power can be ideological,
economic, or cultural, for example, and within these
confines, power can operate at a range of different
levels: the social, individual, military, state-based,
legal, and so on. Though all this is true, there is a
general understanding that the operation of power is
the ability to get an individual to behave or not to
behave in a particular manner. Although this process
may be realized in different ways and in different
social environments, the pragmatic resources utilized
may be of the same type. The problem is, of course,
that not everyone has the same access to such
resources, and, even when they do, not everyone has
the same ability to use those resources in the same
way. Hence, some individuals or groups may access
or use pragmatic resources to maintain a position of
power over others (Harris, 1984; Lakoff, 2000;
Hutchby and Wooffitt, 1998).
Consider, for example, the act of ordering someone
to do X. Parents may order a child to be quiet, an
army officer may order soldiers to march, or a police
officer may order a motorist to stop. Orders or commands such as Stop!, Be quiet, or Quick march, are
imperative forms that function to signal a specific
action or, as it is known, a speech act (Austin,
1962; Searle, 1969) (see Speech Acts). Speech acts
frequently have linguistic markers that indicate
which act is being performed, such as I apologize, or
I order you to X, but frequently the act is underlying
or indirect, as in (I order you) March! But equally
important in producing speech acts is the recognition
that certain conditions hold, such as X has the authority, right, or power to order Y. In the examples

above, this power condition is institutionalized within the system of parental control, within the legal
system for traffic law, and within the formal authority
of army hierarchy. Thus, although we can all produce
orders, we do not all have access to formal roles that
ensure the order is carried out. Hence, in contexts
such as schools, medical encounters, or certain
forms of business organizations, the power to utilize
selected pragmatic resources is differentially
distributed (Drew and Heritage, 1992; Bourdieu,
1991; Lippi-Green, 1997) (see Institutional Talk).
This type of control may be seen in the organization of talk in interaction. Here, there are issues of not
only who can say what, but who can speak when and
about what topic. Studies of the distribution and
organization of taking turns at talk clearly show
that in schools it is the teacher who organizes and
distributes the turns at talk (Coulthard, 1977). Similarly, in the doctors surgery, it is the doctor who is in
control; it is his job to ask the questions and the
patients job is simply to respond (Wodak, 1996). In
these contexts, there is an interactional asymmetry
in relation to responsibility for talk organization.
Indeed, in the case of either the school or the surgery,
for the student or the patient to begin to ask questions
or to take the lead in talking would be seen as a
challenge to the power and control of the doctor or
teacher.
But it need not be a specifically formal situation
where such forms of control operate. Studies of gender differences have continually indicated that in
mixed-gender interactions, men attempt to dominate
the control of turns, access to the floor, and topic
content and distribution (Talbot, 1998; Tannen,
1994). As Shaw (2000) has shown, things become
even more complicated when gender and formal context are mixed. In a study of what may be termed
illegal interruptions in British House of Commons
Proceedings, Shaw noted how male MPs made such
interruptions more frequently than female MPs. Furthermore, when women MPs did carry out such
actions, they were more frequently censured for this
by the Speaker of the House.

Instrumental and Influential Power


The pragmatic control of turns or of specific speech
actions could be seen as the use of instrumental
power. Instrumental power is often formally embedded as a system of control either explicitly formulated
as within the law or more subtly ingrained within
what Foucault called regimes of truth (Foucault,
1980), that is, the control over access to certain
forms of knowledge. But there is also what is seen
as influential power in the operation of pragmatics,

Power and Pragmatics 3

and here this may be seen in almost all walks of life,


although influential power is more often highlighted
in the workings of the media, particularly
in advertising, and in politics (Talbot et al., 2003;
Bell, 1991).
Consider a burger chain advertising statement:
where good people go for good food. How are we
meant to understand this? There is a clever juxtaposition between good as a moral/reflective issue and
good as a comparative adjective of assessment. In
the advertising strap line, there is an effort to get us
to process the phrase good people and good food
together. But why? According to Grice (Grice, 1975;
see also Sperber and Wilson, 1995) what happens is
that the juxtaposition of good people and good food
creates an incongruity in terms of the relevance of the
claim. It is incongruent, argues Grice, because communication is based an assumption of cooperation,
where we try to speak the truth in a clear and concise
manner as simply as is necessary to convey a message
relevant to the talk. This gives one answer to our
question above as to why we assume that John has
no more than three children when someone says John
has three children. If John had more or less than three
children, then according to the pragmatic principles
espoused by Grice, the speaker would have said so
(see Grice, Herbert Paul (19131988)).
Grice does not say that his principles are rules that
must always be in operation, or which must be
obeyed, merely that they provide a heuristics for
interpretation. Interestingly, he also suggested that
when a speaker says more or less than required,
is obscure, or seemingly irrelevant, this may be an
indicator that they intend their hearer to look beyond
the meanings of the words themselves in order to
retrieve the message. In this case, the speaker may
be generating a specific kind of inference referred to
as a conversational implicature (see Levinson,
1983). For example, if I say John was in the room
in response to your question Where have all the
apples gone?, this does not seem to be an answer
at all. However, if you assume I am being relevant
and saying as much as possible, then you will try to
see my response as an answer. Perhaps in this case
we both have shared knowledge that John likes to
eat apples; if that was the case, you could then infer
both that although I do not know who took the
apples (if I did I would have said so) I believe/infer
that John has taken the apples. The reason I believe
this is because, as we jointly know, John really likes
his apples, he was in the room, and now the apples
are missing. Formally, there would be more to explain here, but the general point is that from a
particular utterance we can gain more information

than is readily available from sentence interpretation


alone (see Implicature).
What then has the process of eating good food to
do with the moral or other inclinations involved in
being good people? One answer is that eating food
involves choice. We often hear it said after an enjoyable meal at a restaurant that either the food or the
restaurant itself, or both, was a good choice. Hence,
eating out also involves some discernment on behalf
of the customers. And those who are good at this get
good food. Hence, in this case, not only can you enjoy
the good food but you can give yourself a pat on the
back as one of the good people capable of making a
good choice.
Good people (those who know or care) go for good
food to X.

There is also a more general interpretation here, simply that this restaurant is where good people go for
their food. Since most of us wish to think of ourselves
as good, then this restaurant is the place to be. Both
assumptions would be worked out using a similar
approach. In both cases, the message is clear: if you
consider yourself good in either (or even more) of
the interpretations provided, then you should be in
restaurant X.
This kind of influential power attempts to control
our actions by pushing our choices in a particular
direction. Since good may be taken in a number of
ways, it expands the range of audiences that it might
influence. Thus, any ambiguity is utilized for a positive
purpose, as is the case with the politician before an
election who says We have no intention and see no
reason at this time to raise taxes. In this case there are
two elements worthy of attention. The first is the negation of the term intention. If intention means one is
going to do X (raise taxes), then this is denied. However, in the second part of the sentence the adverbial at
this time marks any intention as time- and contextbased. Consequently, if at a later time one does raise
taxes (after being elected for example), one could not
be accused of having previously misled the public.
Such time-controlled modifications are frequent in
the political domain. The British Prime Minister
stated, in relation to Britains involvement in the
Iraq conflict in 2004, that At the present time, we
believe, we have sufficient troops (in Iraq). We see
the use of the adverbial again, but also in this case
the use of an epistemic marker of knowledge, i.e.,
believe as opposed to know (see Chafe and Nichols,
1986). Believe is weaker than know and may be used
to hedge any claims. Should future events prove
against ones statement, one can always say that is
what I believed at the time.

4 Power and Pragmatics

Pragmatics, as may be seen, is central to the operation of power in society. In formalized contexts, it
explains acts in terms of their conditions of operation;
similarly, it explains in such contexts, and others,
who is expected talk when and about what. It also
allows us to see how embedded inferential information may be calculated to explain specific messages
and similar embedded information may be used to
sidetrack us or to protect the speaker. Knowledge of
pragmatics is therefore central to understanding
power and its role in human communication.
See also: Critical Applied Linguistics; Grice, Herbert Paul

(19131988); Implicature; Institutional Talk; Maxims and


Flouting; Speech Acts; Speech Act Verbs.

Bibliography
Austin J L (1962). How to do things with words. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.
Bach K & Harnish R M (1979). Linguistic communication
and speech acts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Bell A (1991). Language of the news media. Oxford: Blackwell.
Blakemore D (1992). Understanding utterances. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Bourdieu P (1991). Language and symbolic power.
Thompson J B (ed.) (Raymond G & Adamson M trans).
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Chafe W & Nichols J (eds.) (1986). Evidentiality: The
linguistic coding of epistemology. Norwood, NJ: Ablex.
Coulthard M (1977). Discourse analysis. London:
Longman.
Davis S (1991). Pragmatics: A reader. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Drew P & Heritage J (1992). Talk at work: Interaction in
institutional settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Fairclough N (2001). Language and power. London: Longman.
Foucault M (1980). Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings. Gordon C (ed.). Brighton:
Harvester.
Gazdar G (1979). Pragmatics: Implicature, presupposition,
and logical form. New York: Academic Press.

Grice H P (1975). Logic and conversation. In Cole P &


Morgan J (eds.) Syntax and semantics, vol.3: Speech acts.
New York: Academic Press. 4158.
Harris S (1984). Questions as a mode of control in a
magistrates court. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 49, 527.
Hutchby I & Wooffitt R (1998). Conversation analysis: An
introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
Press.
Lakoff G (1987). Women, fire and dangerous things.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lakoff R T (2000). The language war. Berkeley: University
of California Press.
Levinson S C (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Levinson S C (2000). Presumptive meanings. Cambridge,
MA: MIT Press.
Lippi-Green R (1997). English with an accent: Language,
ideology and discrimination in the United States.
London: Routledge.
Mey J L (2001). Pragmatics: An introduction (2nd edn).
Oxford: Blackwell.
Mesthrie R, Swann J, Deumert A & Leap W L (2000).
Introducing sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press.
Searle J R (1969). Speech acts. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press.
Sperber D & Wilson D (1995). Relevance (2nd ed.).
Oxford: Blackwell.
Shaw S (2000). Language gender, and floor apportionment
in political debates. Discourse and Society 11(3),
401418.
Talbot M (1998). Language and gender: An introduction.
Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Talbot M, Atkinson K & Atkinson D (2003). Language
and power in the modern world. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press.
Tannen D (1994). Gender and discourse. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Thornborrow J (2001). Power talk: Language and interaction in institutional discourse. London: Longman.
Wodak R (1996). Disorders of discourse. Harlow, Essex:
Longman.
Yule G (1998). Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University
Press.

Pragmatic Acts 5

Pragmatic Acts
J L Mey, University of Southern Denmark,
Odense, Denmark
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

A Philosophers Mistake
An often heard critique of the Searlean approach
to speech act theory (and, by implication, also of
Austins and Grices; see Mey, 2001: 9394) is that
it concentrates on speech to the exclusion of other
phenomena (e.g., writing) that also fall into the category of language. As a result of this critique, some
linguists have suggested that we replace the term
speech act by a more general one, such as act of
language (compare also the French distinction between acte langagier and acte de parole; German has
Sprachhandlung as opposed to Sprechakt; Bu hler,
1934) (see Speech Acts; Grice, Herbert Paul (1913
1988); Austin, John Langshaw (19111960)).
What is at stake here is more than a terminological
quibble. Those who want to consider speech as different, less comprehensive than language overlook
the fact that all language originates in speech; writing
is a later development, arising from the need to preserve the spoken word for later and remote use. However, there is a wider implication, one that is equally
often overlooked by linguists and many philosophers
alike. As Searle (1969: 16) remarked,
When I take a noise or a mark on a piece of paper to be
an instance of linguistic communication, as a message,
one of the things I must assume is that the noise or mark
was produced by a being or beings more or less like
myself and produced with certain kinds of intentions.

In the standard philosophical approach to language, as we encounter it in works by thinkers such


as Frege, Russell, Carnap, Reichenbach, Lewis, and a
host of other earlier philosophers, the fundamental
unit establishing and legitimating our acts of thinking
and speaking is the abstract proposition, as it manifests itself in the well-formed linguistic sentence. In
this approach, the user of language is conspicuously
absent, and consequently so, too, are his or her intentions. For linguists such as Chomsky and his followers, the persistent problem is how to connect a
certain representation of the world with a given, wellformed linguistic expression. However, people do
not always necessarily think in propositions representing well-formed abstract formulae; nor do they
speak in correct sentences, derived according to the
rules of an abstract grammar. Regarding peoples
world representations, the intentionality that Searle

points to comprises more than just cognizing: Affect,


will, ethical considerations, and so on have to be
taken into consideration when we talk about mental
states.
Combining these different facets of human mental
activity is often thought of as a process of addition:
To a given propositional content (e.g., to shut the
door) I can add a volitional component (as in I want
you to shut the door), a component of ordering (as in
the imperative shut the door!), a component of questioning (as in is the door shut?), and so on. These
additional components are then manifested by their
appropriate speech acts: wanting, ordering, questioning, etc. It is this kind of thinking that is at the basis of
Gazdars (1979: 4) often quoted formula: Pragmatics
is meaning without semantics.
The main difference between speech act theorists
such as Searle (one could also mention others, such
as Austin, Ryle, and Grice) and linguists such as
Chomsky is that the former include the speakers
mental state in their considerations of how to do
things with words (Austin, 1962). However, another
problem arises here, having to do with the nature of
the speech act as primarily defined (in the Searlean
approach) in relation to an ideal speaker (the hearer,
if present, is similarly idealized). Thus, Searles approach not only is basically speaker oriented (the
hearer being thought of as a speaker who is temporarily out of function one who is listening to a
speaking person in order to become a speaker himor herself) but also, both speaker and hearer are
located in some abstract, idealized universe, devoid
of any relation to their actual status as language users.
Even where dialogue or conversation is concerned,
the question of what the speakers are saying to each
other is discussed from a strictly idealized, speakeroriented viewpoint; thus, questions as well as answers
are uttered by dummies figuring as speaker/hearers
(e.g., the ubiquitous Peter and Mary). It is in this
sense that we must understand Levinsons (1983:
293) often quoted remark that there is no such thing
as abstract questionhood or answerhood: all questions and their corresponding answers originate in
real-world language users. A question is always a concrete somebodys question, and an answer is always
given by somebody with real expectations, needs, and
obligations.
However, if this is true for questions and answers,
then it must hold for other speech acting as well.
There are no orders except those given by a superordinate to a subordinate. The speech act of ordering
is widely different, for example, in the military than

6 Pragmatic Acts

in the family; although it is true that everywhere


certain people give orders while others have to take
them, the difference is in the people and their placement in society. Similarly, there are no promises except those given by a concrete promiser to a concrete
promisee, as they are characterized by their actual
living conditions, especially when it comes to understanding what a promise is about, being able to accept
a promise, and so on. Also, regarding ordinary conversation, the accepted ordering sequence of the individual replies not only represents some external
schema (as used in conversation analysis) but also
reflects and reproduces the power structure of our
society: The powerful grab the floor, whereas the
weak withdraw under pressure (see Conversation
Analysis).
A final aspect (partially adumbrated in the preceding) is essential to our understanding of speech acting.
A speech act never comes alone but carries always
with it a bevy of other acts on which it essentially
depends for its success (see Speech Acts and Grammar). Some of these are strictly speech oriented,
whereas others are of a more general nature and
include, besides speech, those aspects of communication that often are referred to as extralinguistic:
gestures, intonation, facial mimics, body posture,
head movements, laughter, and so on. It is these inclusive acts that I call pragmatic acts (see Pragmatics:
Overview).

An Illustrative Case: The Irony of Irony


I now illustrate the previous discussion by adducing
a classical instance of purported speech acting:
the use of irony in speech. Much has been written
about irony by linguists, philosophers, sociologists,
computer scientists, psychologists, and others. I limit
myself here to contrasting two characteristic
approaches from different camps: one linguistically
and philosophically oriented, and the other more
geared toward a computational view (see Irony).
Sperber and Wilson, two of the best known authors
writing on the subject of irony from a philosophical
linguistic standpoint, have expressed their views on
the subject in a number of important contributions.
Here is a typical quote:
Irony plays on the relationship between speakers
thought and the thought of someone other than the
speaker (Sperber and Wilson, 1986: 243).

According to these authors, the speech act of irony is,


in the final instance, expressive of a purely mental
process, contrasting two thoughts: the speakers and
someone elses.

In contrast to this mentalistic view of irony, others


have taken the stance that irony is first of all a situational phenomenon: Ironic language presupposes an
ironic situation, either in the hic et nunc or . . . in the
human condition at large (Littman and Mey, 1991:
134). Specifically, a situation is ironic whenever the
acting persons explicit or implicit goals clash with
the reality of their acts. For example, consider the
firefighter whose smoking in bed causes the fire station to burn down: His implicit goal, to prevent fires,
clashes with his explicit acting, causing a fire to break
out. This clashing of act and intention is not only
typical for irony but also typical for all sorts of
humor; cf. especially Freuds definition of humor as
a shock between two heterogeneous or incompatible
worlds (as quoted in Haverkate, 1990: 107; Freud,
1916/1948). Similarly, in Littman and Meys (1991:
135) terminology, irony is based on a twist that
appears to depend upon some relationship between
(1) the actors goals, (2) the actors plans, and (3) the
actors state of knowledge about the likelihood of the
plan succeeding.
Irony thus presupposes an ironic situation, one in
which an actors plans somehow come to naught
through his or her own fault or lack of knowledge,
as attested by Robert Burnss best laid schemes of
mice and men that sooner or later all gang agley
most often through the actors own doings. If we
accept this view of irony, then it should be evident
that the acting is a central ingredient of any kind of
ironic utterance; in fact, ironic utterances are only
possible within some kind of action frame, viz., an
ironic situation that makes the irony possible. Irony is
thus, strictly speaking, not a speech act by its own
volition and authority; its quality of act depends on
the acting persons and their views and knowledge of
the situation in which they act.
It follows that ironic utterances are not, as Sperber
and Wilson (1981: 302) maintain, basically to do
with speaker attitude but with the world; not principally with speaking but with acting. The distinction
between using an utterance and mentioning it (in
irony) that these authors advocate (Sperber and
Wilson, 1981) thus turns out to be just as vacuous as
the time-worn distinction between saying and meaning when applied to irony (cf. Booth, 1974). As
to mentioning, this is itself a case of language use
and thus not essentially different from other use; as
such, it is situation dependent. Speech, by itself, does
not act: strictly speaking, there are no speech acts
since, ultimately, all speech acting crucially depends
on the situation in which the action takes place.
Hence, speech acts, in order to be viable, have to be
situated, as discussed next.

Pragmatic Acts 7

Acting in a Social Situation


Previously, I stressed the need to think of speakers and
hearers as acting in a social context. In traditional
linguistics, the user, when and if he or she appears on
the scene (as we have seen it happen in Searles or in
Sperber and Wilsons works), is always defined as an
individual speaker whose words are spoken in the
abstract space of exemplary thinking: The utterances that are produced lack any anchoring in the
societal reality and invoke a context only as needed
to make (minimal) sense. Such a context is never
extended beyond the immediate needs of the description; it is not one that is solidly placed in the speakers
and hearers actual social environment, a situated
context. Similarly, the voices that we are hearing in
the constructed dialogues of linguists examples belong to lifeless characters (e.g., the famous Mary
and Peter) and not to real, interacting persons on a
common, social scene (Mey, 1994: 155) (see Context,
Communicative).
Typical for the social situation is that it is a common scene that is, a situation whose participants are
on some kind of shared footing. Elsewhere (Mey,
2001: 135), I have advocated the necessity of situating our speech acts in context, especially with regard
to analyzing peoples conversation. The reason is that
no speech act, or any conversational contribution,
can be understood properly unless it is situated
within the environment in which it was meant to be
understood. Quoting out of context is a well-known
means of manipulating a conversational partner; the
proper use of conversational techniques excludes
such manipulation precisely in the name of good
conversational behavior.
In particular, the French sociologist Jacques
Rancie`re (1995) applied the notion of common
scene to the political domain. Here, politics is defined as the battle for the common scene of understanding (Rancie`re, 1995: 13) a battle that is not
merely about defining a common ground, in the sense
of establishing some common definitions or some
common conceptual framework, but primarily about
what is understood as being common, by ruling out
various kinds of misunderstanding (the title of
Rancie`res work). The point is that such a ruling
out should not be conceived of as a one-sided ruling
(in the sense of a judge ruling some question out of
order) but as an appeal to the commonly accepted
rules for making and breaking a social relationship. It
is here that the notion of social situation becomes
crucial.
Rancie`res social scene is more than a simple context, understood as a common platform of conversation; rather, the question that he raises concerns the

underlying presuppositions making the scene possible. This possibility involves what the actors can
afford, not just what they can think and cognize.
Thus, the common scene is transcendental in an
even deeper sense than Kants: Not only the possibility of thinking and cognizing but also the very
possibility of acting is questioned. This is why
Rancie`res notion of common scene is so important
for the theory of pragmatic acts (see Kant, Immanuel
(17241804); Pragmatic Presupposition).
Understanding a scene depends entirely on the acting. An active understanding implies having an idea
of what to do on the scene, not just of what to say or
think (these latter, although important, are still subordinated to the acting). Conversely, ones understanding of others depends on understanding their
acting and the role they assume on the scene. What
may appear as crazy behavior outside of the theater
(cf. the expressions, a theatrical laugh, to assume a
tragic posture, or even to put on an act) is perfectly
understandable and rational on the scene, where role
and rationality depend on each other. Rational acting
is to act in accordance with ones role; any acting
outside of that role is irrational (besides being strictly
speaking impossible if one wants to keep ones place,
both as an actor on the scene and as a member of
the theatrical company).
Pragmatics tries to place the common scene within
society by making it clear that also on the societal
scene at large (and not just in politics) a battle for
domination is going on. If we do not understand this
battle as a struggle between the forces of society, our
understanding of the common scene and its actors
will be incomplete. Conversely, our acting is determined by the scene: The scenes affordances (a term
from psychology; Gibson, 1979) are the limits of our
actions. Common affordances create a common platform for action; a lack of such affordances restricts
our possibilities of acting socially. Inasmuch as our
acting depends on our understanding of the scene and
its affordances, the scene is only actable for all
actors if it has been established as common that is,
affordable for everybody and by everybody.
From the previous discussion, it is clear that not
only the scene determines our acting but also, conversely, our actions determine and reaffirm the existing scene. We profess adherence to our common
platform by acting within its confines, by obeying
its limitations, and by realizing our possibilities.
Our acting on the scene (this includes our so-called
speech acts) is thus always a situated action that
is, an action made possible and afforded by and in a
particular situation. The next section explores in
more detail what this has to say for the question of
pragmatic acts.

8 Pragmatic Acts

The Indirect Speech Act Paradox


In the literature, one frequently comes across the
following vexing question (e.g., Mey, 2001: 113,
219; Searle, 1975: 82): How to explain that our
speech acts more often than not are realized by
expressions having very little to do with the literal
interpretation of those expressions, but rather much
with their conventional interpretation?
The traditional approach to this indirect speech
act paradox suggests that we either rely on such
expressions being understood as idioms or rely on
our using certain rules of inference (Levinson, 1983:
268272, 2000: 16) (see Inference: Abduction, Induction, Deduction). A pragmatic solution to the paradox would have to go further and specifically ask
what those rules are and how they are administered.
Just like other speech acts (or, generally, any way of
using words to do things), the so-called indirect
speech acts derive their force not from their lexicosemantic buildup but from the situation in which they
are appropriately uttered. This situational support
rests on the assumption that every situation carries its
own organizing principle. That is, the conventions
and rules of society determine what is appropriate
speaking behavior for a particular situation.
In early speech act theory, this led to the erroneous assumption that the preferred response was
the only legal one: the so-called canonical speech
act, expressed by an appropriate speech act verb
promises require a verb of promising, orders one
of ordering, and so on (Mey, 2001: 184) (see Speech
Acts: Definition and Classification). Although this
rigid interpretation of the principle is unacceptable
(it would lead, among other things, to the rejection of
indirect speech acts as improper), the notion that the
situation has a heavy hand in defining and determining what we say is valid. The situation, so to speak,
creates the affordances by which we are guided toward a correct interpretation of what we are hearing,
and indeed of what we ourselves are saying (in accordance with the observation that we have not properly
understood our own utterances until somebody has
understood them with us an insight due to the Danish linguist Jesper Hermann (1992)). Here, we are in
touch with the very roots of speech act theory, as it
was conceived by Austin (1962: 100, scare quotes as
in the original), who carefully (not to say cautiously)
referred to the situated utterance as [words] to some
extent explained by the context in which they have
been actually spoken. Recall also that it was Austins
original intention to study the total speech in the
total situation (Austin, 1962: 148 (italics added)).
Summing up, speech acts, in order to be effective,
have to be situated. That is, they both rely on and

actively create the situation in which they are realized.


Thus, a situated speech act comes close to what
Hymes (1964/1977) called a speech event in ethnographic and anthropological studies (cf. Bauman
and Sherzer, 1974): speech as embedded in an institutionalized social activity of a certain kind, such as
teaching, visiting a doctors office, and participating
in a tea ceremony. In all such activities, the role of
speech is prescribed; only certain utterances can be
expected and will be acceptable. On the other hand,
by their very acceptance of whatever is said as a
situated utterance, the participants establish and reaffirm their social situation. The emphasis is no longer on describing individual speech acts (as it was for
Searle and his followers) but on figuring out how a
particular act of language came to be used in this
particular situation and with what effect. Regarding
Hymess speech event, although the words spoken by
the participants require an understanding in terms of
the language used, the individual speech acts make
sense only when framed in the event.
In this way, the indirect speech act paradox can be
dissolved by moving the focus of attention from the
words being said to the things being done. In the sense
that indirectness is a straight derivative from the
situation, and inasmuch as all speech acting depends
on the situation (with its dialectic feedback, as we
have seen), one may say that in this situational
sense, there are only indirect speech acts; alternatively, no speech act, in and of itself, makes any sense.
A fortiori, there are, strictly speaking, no such things
as speech acts per se, only acts of speech in a situation.
The next section provides more details.

Situated Acting: The Body Speaks


(John Donne)
The philosophers mistake, referred to previously,
was to believe that we can explain our use of words
in action by referring to individual speech acts with
well-defined properties, assigned in accordance with
certain philosophical and linguistic criteria. We have
seen how efforts to break out of this linguistic and
philosophical straitjacket (such as by Searle and the
post-Searleans or by the followers of Sperber and
Wilson) have failed in the end. The reason is that no
isolated theory of language or the mind will be able to
explain the workings of the human user in a concrete
situation that depends neither on the mind nor on
language exclusively and that consequently cannot be
expressed in terms specifically created for describing
the linguistic or mental domains.
In contrast, a pragmatic approach to speech acting
will, as its first and most important business, raise the
question of the users possibilities in a situation. To

Pragmatic Acts 9

use a parallel from another mental activity, vision:


seeing is not a simple matter of an object reflecting
itself in the mind, it is the situation that, along with
the active perceptive categories, creates the objects
of perception in accordance with the possibilities
afforded by the situation (aptly called affordances
by Gibson, 1979). Similarly, when we use language
for communication, what we expect to hear is what
we can, and actually do, understand in the situation. However, this situational affordability comprises more than just the words spoken. As Charles
Goodwin (2000: 1492) pointed out, in the situated
interaction that takes place, for example, among
girls playing hopscotch,
the construction of action through talk . . . is accomplished through the temporally unfolding juxtaposition
of quite different kinds of semiotic resources . . . through
this process, the human body is made publicly visible as
the site for a range of structurally different kinds of
displays implicated in the constitution of the actions of
the moment.

Goodwin goes on to illustrate this use of the body as


one through which participants in situated action
make reflexive references to their speech by positioning themselves in the other participants line of vision,
using gestures not just to illustrate but also to actually
execute speech acts (e.g., of asserting, contesting, and
supporting). More generally, conversational moves
are not only realized through speaking in ordered
sequences; the body may jump into the conversational fray and change the course of the interaction,
preempt a conversational turn, seize the floor, and the
like. An act such as seizing the floor is accomplished
nonverbally; turn-taking is not only prefaced by, or
even merely accompanied by, a body movement: The
body move is the taking of the turn, as it is performed
by dint of a hybrid system (Goodwin, 2000: 1516).
This interaction between action and speech cannot
be captured by a simplistic notion of speech act,
no matter how well defined. A proper label to put
on those concerted actions is that of the pragmatic
act as the locus where all the different linguistic and
semiotic structures converge and are properly ordered
in communication.

Conclusion: Pragmemes and Practs


The theory of pragmatic acts does not explain human
language use by starting from the words uttered by a
single, idealized speaker. Instead, it focuses on the
interactional situation in which both speakers and
hearers realize their aims. The explanatory movement
is from the outside in, rather than from the inside out:
Instead of starting with what is said, and looking for
what the words could mean, the situation in which

the words fit is invoked to explain what can be (and is


actually being) said.
The emphasis here is not on rules for use
of individual speech acts but on characterizing a
typical, pragmatic act as it is realized in a given situation. Adopting familiar linguistic terminology (cf.
terms such as phoneme, morpheme, etc.), I call this
(proto-)type of act a pragmeme. Individual pragmatic acts realize a particular pragmeme (e.g., inciting to
declare war); we may call these practs. However,
since no acts ever will be completely identical (every
situation in which war is declared is different from
every other), every pract is also an allopract that is,
a different realization of a particular pragmeme. The
Israeli linguist Dennis Kurzon, who has worked specifically in the area of incitement, supported this
view when he said that any utterance may constitute
an act of incitement if the circumstances are appropriate to allow for such an interpretation (Kurzon,
1998: 587; Mey, 2001: 221).
With regard to pragmatic acts, one is not primarily
concerned with matters of grammatical correctness or
strict observance of rules. What counts as a pract (i.e.,
what can be subsumed under a particular pragmeme
as an allopract) depends on the understanding that
the participants have of the situation and on the
outcome of the act in a given context. Schematically,
this can be represented as shown in Figure 1.
In Figure 1, the various abbreviations to the right
have to do with textual features, such as INF for
inferencing, REF for establishing reference, REL
for relevance, VCE for voice (cf. Mey, 2000), SSK
for shared situation knowledge, and MPH (for metaphor). The symbol M denotes a metapragmatic
joker that is, any element that directs our attention
to something happening on the metapragmatic level.
For instance, changing the order of the words in a
sentence may tell us something about the relative
importance of the transposed elements. Using the
standard expression alleged in a report may serve
to exonerate the journalist from implicitly proffering
an accusation by imputing guilt to an (alleged) defendant in a criminal case, and so on. However, because it is impossible to catch all of these
metapragmatic functions of the joker under one
hat, I prefer to wave my hands at terminology by
simply labeling this elusive character (with homage
to Fritz Lang) M for metapragmatic.
In this way, the right side of the schema symbolizes
the elements that are present in the textual chain
(the listing is of course not complete). Regarding the
column to the left in Figure 1 it should be read as
a feature matrix whose cells can either be filled or
empty. If the latter is the case for all of the cells, the
matrix renders the value zero ().

10 Pragmatic Acts

Figure 1 Pragmeme, pract, allopract. Adapted from Mey (2001: 222).

In conclusion, let me quote a contemporary


Chinese pragmaticist, talking about the perlocutionary effect of speech acts. Yueguo Gu (1993: 428)
remarked that perlocution is not a single act performed by S[peaker]. Nor is its effect being caused
by an utterance. It involves a [rhetorical] transaction
(italics added). This is, mutatis mutandis, what the
current entry has been arguing for. Like perlocutions,
pragmatic acts involve minimally not only a speaker
and a hearer but also, in addition, a number of other
factors. When all is said (illocutionarily) and not least
(perlocutionarily) done, the rhetorical transactions
involved in speech acting rest on the assumption of
the force of the utterance. This force is pragmatic, to
wit: the force of the pragmeme.

See also: Austin, John Langshaw (19111960); Context,


Communicative; Conversation Analysis; Gestures: Pragmatic Aspects; Grice, Herbert Paul (19131988); Inference: Abduction, Induction, Deduction; Irony; Pragmatic
Presupposition; Pragmatics: Overview; Presupposition;
Speech Acts; Speech Acts and Grammar; Speech Acts:
Definition and Classification.

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Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said 11


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Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said


E Borg, University of Reading, Reading, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Imagine that Jack, pointing at a book on the table,


utters the sentence That is better than Jills book.
What, we might ask, is said by his utterance?
Well, since the sentence contains a context-sensitive
expression the demonstrative that we know that
determining what is said will require an appeal to the
context of utterance to provide a referent (see Indexicality: Theory). Thus, this is one kind of pragmatic
determinant of what is said by Jacks utterance. The
sentence is also context sensitive in another, slightly
less obvious, way: it is in the present tense, so an
appeal to the context of utterance will also be needed
to fix a time for Jacks claim. Finally, many theorists
recently have argued that the sentence is also context
sensitive in a third, much less obvious, way: for to
grasp what is said by Jack it seems that we also need
to know what kind of relationship he envisages between Jill and her book. Does Jack intend to say that
the book he is demonstrating is better than the book
Jill wrote, better than the book Jill owns, the book Jill
is reading, etc? And what does he mean by better
here better written, better researched, better for
standing on to reach a high shelf? Surely Jack says
more than merely that the book he is demonstrating is
better in some respect or other than a book bearing
some relationship or other to Jill, but, if so, then
any such additional information can only come from
consideration of the context of utterance.
Furthermore and this is where the current case
differs from that of demonstratives and tense its not
obvious that this last type of pragmatic determinant
of what is said is traceable to any overt (i.e., syntactically represented) context-sensitive element. Jacks
utterance does contain the syntactically marked possessive, but s certainly doesnt appear on the list of
usual suspects for context-sensitive expressions. And
in many cases even this degree of syntactic representation is missing. Consider an utterance of Its raining, where what is said is that it is raining at

some location, l, or You wont die, saying that


you wont die from that cut, or Nietzsche is nicer,
meaning that Nietzsche is nicer than Heidegger. Or
again, consider the speaker who produces a nonsentential utterance, e.g., pointing at a child and saying
Georges brother, thereby conveying that he is
Georges brother. In all these cases we have additional
information contributed by the context of utterance
yet which seems unmarked at the syntactic level.
These types of pragmatic determinant of what
is said (i.e., contextually supplied information which
is semantically relevant but syntactically unmarked)
have come to be known as unarticulated constituents (UCs). Such elements are extremely interesting
to philosophers of language since they seem to show
that there are problems with a quite standard conception of formal semantics, according to which the
route to meaning runs along exclusively syntactic
trails.
Now, as noted above, even in formal theories of
meaning, like truth-conditional accounts (see Truth
Conditional Semantics and Meaning), some appeal to
a context of utterance must be made in order to cope
with overtly context-sensitive expressions. However,
the thought has been that this need not contravene the
essentially formal nature of our theory, since the contextual instructions can be syntactically triggered in
this case (crudely, the word that tells us to find a
demonstrated object from the context of utterance).
Much more problematic, then, are pragmatic determinants of what is said which apparently lack any
syntactic basis, for they show that context can come
to figure at the semantic level regardless of whether it
is syntactically called for (thus there will be no purely
syntactic route to meaning).
In response to the challenge posed by UCs, advocates of formal semantics have sought to reject the
idea that there are any such things as syntactically
unrepresented but semantically relevant elements,
claiming either that
1. every contextual element of what is said really is
syntactically represented, even though this fact
may not be obvious from the surface syntax of a

Abstract:
Recently, the established way of thinking about speech acts (in the tradition of Austin, Searle, Grice, and their
followers) has undergone a remarkable change. From being an effort to represent human words in terms of what they
do (Austin), or how they can be used to produce speech acts (Searle) or to generate implicatures (Grice), the focus
has shifted to the situation in which words are spoken and how this contributes to understanding the utterance, or
even how the situation can predefine and to a degree determine what can be said. The upshot of these
considerations is that we need a new theory, one that takes into account the inter- and transactional aspects of
speech acting. This article proposes such a theory under the label of pragmatic acts acts that work not just by their
wording but also by their being embedded in a situation in which humans act, with everything that humans bring to
their interactional forum, including body movements, emotions, and so on.

Biography:
Jacob L Mey (b. 1926) is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Southern Denmark. Previous
appointments include the University of Oslo, Norway; the University of Texas at Austin; Georgetown University,
Washington, DC; Yale University, New Haven, CT; Tsukuba University, Japan; Northwestern University, Evanston, IL;
City University of Hong Kong; Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main; Universidade Estadual de Campinas, S.P.,
Brazil; Universidade de Braslia, Braslia, DF; the University of Haifa and Haifa Technion, Israel; as well as numerous
other institutions of research and higher learning. His research interests concern all areas of pragmatics, with an
emphasis on the social aspects of language use, the pragmatic impact of computer technologies, and the pragmatic
use of literary devices. Among his publications in these areas are Pragmalinguistics: theory and practice (Mouton, 1979),
Whose language? A study in linguistic pragmatics (Benjamins, 1985), and Pragmatics: an introduction (Blackwell, 1993; 2nd
rev. edn., 2001). His most recent publication is As Vozes da Sociedade (The voices of society; in Portuguese) (Mercado
de Letras, 2002). Regarding the computer-related aspects of pragmatics, a recent development is a new field,
cognitive technology (CT), which he is among the first to have developed, having written and edited numerous articles
and books in the area and coorganized several international conferences (together with Barbara Gorayska). The
main interest of CT is to study the effects of the computer on the human mind and how the mind determines the uses
we make of the computer as a tool. Among his other main interests are the theory of literature and poetics. These
interests culminated (following many previous articles) in his book When voices clash: a study in literary pragmatics
(Mouton de Gruyter, 2000). He is founder (with Hartmut Haberland) and chief editor of the monthly Journal of
Pragmatics. He also edits RASK: International Journal of Languages and Linguistics. Among his edited volumes are two
readers on cognitive technology (Elsevier Science, 1996 and 1999) and the 1100-page Concise encyclopedia of
pragmatics (Elsevier Science, 1998). He holds an honorary D.Phil. degree from the University of Zaragoza, Spain. He
is a member of various professional organizations, such as the Linguistic Society of America, the Copenhagen
Linguistic Circle, and the International Pragmatics Association (of which he is a member of the consultative board).
He is editor or member of the advisory board of a number of series and journals, such as Pragmatics and Beyond
(Amsterdam); Anthropological Linguistics (Berlin); Discourse and Society; Text, Language and Literature (Liverpool);
Miscelanea (Zaragoza); Psyke og Logos (Copenhagen); Semantique et Pragmatique (Orleans); and Cadernos de Linguagem
e Sociedade (Braslia).

Keywords:
Affordance
common sense
extralinguistic acts
intention

Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said 11


Rancie`re J (1995). La mesentente. Paris: Galilee.
Searle J R (1969). Speech acts: an essay in the philosophy of
language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Searle J R (1975). Indirect speech acts. In Cole P &
Morgan J (eds.) Syntax and semantics, vol. 3, Speech
acts. New York: Academic Press. 5982.

Sperber D & Wilson D (1981). Irony and the usemention


distinction. In Cole P (ed.) Radical pragmatics. New
York: Academic Press. 295318.
Sperber D & Wilson D (1995). Relevance: communication
and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell. (Original work published in 1986.)

Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said


E Borg, University of Reading, Reading, UK
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Imagine that Jack, pointing at a book on the table,


utters the sentence That is better than Jills book.
What, we might ask, is said by his utterance?
Well, since the sentence contains a context-sensitive
expression the demonstrative that we know that
determining what is said will require an appeal to the
context of utterance to provide a referent (see Indexicality: Theory). Thus, this is one kind of pragmatic
determinant of what is said by Jacks utterance. The
sentence is also context sensitive in another, slightly
less obvious, way: it is in the present tense, so an
appeal to the context of utterance will also be needed
to fix a time for Jacks claim. Finally, many theorists
recently have argued that the sentence is also context
sensitive in a third, much less obvious, way: for to
grasp what is said by Jack it seems that we also need
to know what kind of relationship he envisages between Jill and her book. Does Jack intend to say that
the book he is demonstrating is better than the book
Jill wrote, better than the book Jill owns, the book Jill
is reading, etc? And what does he mean by better
here better written, better researched, better for
standing on to reach a high shelf? Surely Jack says
more than merely that the book he is demonstrating is
better in some respect or other than a book bearing
some relationship or other to Jill, but, if so, then
any such additional information can only come from
consideration of the context of utterance.
Furthermore and this is where the current case
differs from that of demonstratives and tense its not
obvious that this last type of pragmatic determinant
of what is said is traceable to any overt (i.e., syntactically represented) context-sensitive element. Jacks
utterance does contain the syntactically marked possessive, but s certainly doesnt appear on the list of
usual suspects for context-sensitive expressions. And
in many cases even this degree of syntactic representation is missing. Consider an utterance of Its raining, where what is said is that it is raining at

some location, l, or You wont die, saying that


you wont die from that cut, or Nietzsche is nicer,
meaning that Nietzsche is nicer than Heidegger. Or
again, consider the speaker who produces a nonsentential utterance, e.g., pointing at a child and saying
Georges brother, thereby conveying that he is
Georges brother. In all these cases we have additional
information contributed by the context of utterance
yet which seems unmarked at the syntactic level.
These types of pragmatic determinant of what
is said (i.e., contextually supplied information which
is semantically relevant but syntactically unmarked)
have come to be known as unarticulated constituents (UCs). Such elements are extremely interesting
to philosophers of language since they seem to show
that there are problems with a quite standard conception of formal semantics, according to which the
route to meaning runs along exclusively syntactic
trails.
Now, as noted above, even in formal theories of
meaning, like truth-conditional accounts (see Truth
Conditional Semantics and Meaning), some appeal to
a context of utterance must be made in order to cope
with overtly context-sensitive expressions. However,
the thought has been that this need not contravene the
essentially formal nature of our theory, since the contextual instructions can be syntactically triggered in
this case (crudely, the word that tells us to find a
demonstrated object from the context of utterance).
Much more problematic, then, are pragmatic determinants of what is said which apparently lack any
syntactic basis, for they show that context can come
to figure at the semantic level regardless of whether it
is syntactically called for (thus there will be no purely
syntactic route to meaning).
In response to the challenge posed by UCs, advocates of formal semantics have sought to reject the
idea that there are any such things as syntactically
unrepresented but semantically relevant elements,
claiming either that
1. every contextual element of what is said really is
syntactically represented, even though this fact
may not be obvious from the surface syntax of a

12 Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said

sentence (i.e., there is more to our syntax than


initially supposed), or that
2. any contextual contributions which are not
syntactically marked are not semantically relevant
(i.e., there is less to our semantics than initially
supposed).
The first of these moves is pursued by a number
of theorists who argue that, if one pays proper attention to all the information given at the syntactic level,
one will find that many cases of supposedly syntaxindependent semantic contribution are, in fact, syntactically required (see Stanley, 2000; Stanley and
Szabo, 2000; Taylor, 2001; Recanati, 2002). Now,
that there is some discrepancy between surface form
and underlying syntax is a well-rehearsed point. For
instance, Russells theory of descriptions invokes a
clear distinction between surface form and logical
form. Furthermore cases of so-called syntactic ellipsis
(like the contraction in Jack likes dogs and so does
Jill, where the second sentence is held to have the
underlying syntactic form Jill likes dogs despite
its reduced verbal form) show that surface constituents may be poor indicators of syntactic elements.
If this is correct, then the principle that there is
more to our syntax than is apparent at first glance
is independently well motivated.
Given this, there certainly seem to be cases in which
(1) is an appealing response to putative examples of
UCs. To give an example: someone might claim that,
because an utterance of Jack plays can be used in
one context to say that Jack plays the trombone and
in another to say that Jack plays football, there must
be a syntactically unmarked, contextual contribution
to the semantic content of an utterance of this kind.
However, closer inspection of the syntax shows this
conclusion is dubious: plays is a transitive verb requiring a subject and an object and, although the
argument place for an object can be left unfilled at
the surface level without this making the sentence ill
formed, it might be argued that the additional argument place is marked in the underlying syntax of the
verb. Since plays is a transitive verb, the competent
interlocutor will, on hearing Jack plays, expect to
look to a context of utterance to discover what Jack
plays, but this is precisely because she is sensitive to
the syntactic structure of English in this case. Thus
sometimes an appeal to an enriched syntax seems
the best way to cope with putative UCs. However,
there are also cases where (1) seems less compelling.
For instance, in certain contexts, it seems that Jack
can use an utterance of The apple is red to convey
the proposition that the apple is red to degree n on its
skin. Yet it is far from clear that the correct syntactic
structure for color terms includes argument places for

the shade, or precise manner of instantiation, of the


color. Furthermore, the idea that syntactic structure
can outstrip surface form at all (or at least in the ways
required by [1]) has been rejected by some.
So, the opponent of UCs might seek to supplement
(1) with (2), allowing that some contextually supplied
information is not marked at the syntactic level but
denying that such information is semantically relevant. The advocate of this kind of response wants to
accept that, at an intuitive level, the speaker who
utters The apple is red (or You wont die, etc.)
clearly does convey the contextually enriched proposition (i.e., that the apple is red on the outside, or
that you wont die from that cut) but that this is
an instance of speaker meaning rather than semantic ontent (see SemanticsPragmatics Boundary).
Now, whether this move is warranted in all cases is
again something of a moot point. One objection
might be that it is a mistake to seek to separate
speaker intuitions about what is said and claims of
semantic content to the radical degree predicted by
this kind of move. So, for instance, it seems that the
message recovered from an utterance of That banana is green will always be that that banana is
green in some salient respect, but if this is the kind
of proposition competent speakers can and do recover in communicative exchanges, shouldnt this be
what semantics seeks to capture? What role could
there be for a more minimal kind of semantic content
(e.g., which treats semantic content as exhausted by
the proposition that that banana is green simpliciter)?
(See Borg, 2004; Cappelen and Lepore, 2005, for
attempts to answer this question.) A second worry
for the formal semanticist who pursues (2) is that it
may undermine her claim that semantics deals with
complete propositions or truth-evaluable items. For
instance, take the situation where the book Jack
demonstrates is better than the book Jill is reading,
but worse than the book she wrote. To assess Jacks
opening utterance as true or false in this situation, it
might seem that we need first to determine what
relationship Jack intended by his utterance of Jills
book. Without this pragmatically determined aspect
of what is said, it is argued, the sentence Jack produces is simply not truth evaluable, it doesnt express
a complete proposition (cf. Recanati, 2003).
Clearly, then, although the formal semanticist can
respond to the challenge of UCs with moves like (1)
and (2) it is not at all obvious that these responses are
sufficient. However, we should also be aware that
there are problems to be faced on the other side, by
the proponent of UCs, as well. One major worry is
how to preserve our intuitive distinction between
semantically relevant elements and elements which
are only pragmatically relevant. Given the traditional

Pragmatic Determinants of What Is Said 13

conception of formal semantics, the answer to this


question was clear: something is semantically relevant if it can be traced to the syntax of the sentence,
it is pragmatically relevant otherwise. Once we admit
of semantically relevant but syntactically unmarked
elements, however, this way of characterizing the
distinction is clearly unavailable, so the proponent
of UCs owes us some other account. If Jack utters
Ive eaten then it might seem plausible to claim that
the semantic content of this utterance is that he has
eaten breakfast today, but he might also succeed in
conveying the messages that he has eaten a cooked
breakfast within the last hour, or that he is not hungry, or any number of further propositions. How do
we decide which elements come to figure in the supposed semantic content of the utterance, and on what
basis do we rule some conveyed messages as merely
pragmatic?
A further worry seems to be that, for each additional contextual contribution we introduce, this contribution is itself open to further qualification: an
utterance of That banana is green might intuitively
be contextually enriched to that banana is green on its
skin, but why stop here? Does the speaker mean to
say that that banana is green all over its skin, that
that banana is mostly green on a particular patch of
skin, or that that banana is a bit green on this bit
of surface skin and to a depth of degree n through
the skin? The problem is that, for any piece of contextual information we introduce via a UC, this piece
of information is itself likely to allow for a number
of different contextual qualifications or sharpenings,
and we seem to lack any principled reason to disallow
these further sharpenings from appearing as part of
the semantic content of the utterance. Yet, without
such a reason, we run the risk of being launched on a
slippery slope whereby the meaning of every utterance turns out to be a proposition which is somehow
complete in every respect. Yet no such conclusion
seems palatable: it undermines notions of systematicity for meaning and makes it completely unclear
how we ever come to learn and use a language given
our finite cognitive resources (see Compositionality:
Semantic Aspects; Compositionality: Philosophical
Aspects; Systematicity).
So, it seems there are problems on both sides of
the debate here and the question of how to handle
pragmatic determinants of what is said remains a
vexed one. The advocate of formal semantics needs
to deliver an account both of overtly context-sensitive
expressions the indexicals, demonstratives, and tense
markers of a natural language and of the more

covert kinds of context sensitivity discussed here.


Reflecting on the multitude of ways in which a context of utterance can apparently affect issues of linguistic meaning certainly seems to show that the
formal semanticist runs the risk of undervaluing
the role played by pragmatic determinants in what
is said. Yet it remains to be seen whether this constitutes merely a potential oversight on her behalf (cf.
Stanley, 2000; Stanley and Szabo, 2000; Borg, 2004)
or a fundamental failing of the whole approach (cf.
Sperber and Wilson, 1986; Carston, 2002).
See also: Character versus Content; Compositionality:
Philosophical Aspects; Compositionality: Semantic Aspects; Expression Meaning versus Utterance/Speaker
Meaning; Indexicality: Theory; SemanticsPragmatics
Boundary; Systematicity; Truth Conditional Semantics
and Meaning.

Bibliography
Bach K (1994). Semantic slack: what is said and more. In
Tsohatzidis S (ed.) Foundations of speech act theory:
philosophical and linguistic perspectives. London:
Routledge. 267291.
Bach K (1999). The semanticspragmatics distinction:
what it is and why it matters. In Turner K (ed.) The
semantics/pragmatics interface from different points of
view. Oxford/New York: Elsevier Science. 6583.
Borg E (2004). Minimal semantics. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Cappelen H & Lepore E (2005). Insensitive semantics: a
defense of semantic minimalism and speech act pluralism.
Oxford: Blackwell.
Carston R (2002). Thoughts and utterances. Oxford:
Blackwell.
Elugardo R & Stainton R (2004). Shorthand, syntactic
ellipsis and the pragmatic determinants of what is said.
Mind and Language 19(4), 359471.
Perry J (1986). Thought without representation. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume
40, 263283.
Recanati F (2002). Unarticulated constituents. Linguistics
and Philosophy 25, 299345.
Recanati F (2003). Literal meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Sperber D & Wilson D (1986). Relevance: communication
and cognition. Oxford: Blackwell.
Stanley J (2000). Context and logical form. Linguistics
and Philosophy 23, 391434.
Stanley J & Szabo Z (2000). On quantifier domain
restriction. Mind and Language 15, 219261.
Taylor K (2001). Sex, breakfast, and descriptus interruptus.
Synthese 128, 4561.

14 Pragmatic Indexing

Pragmatic Indexing
M Silverstein, The University of Chicago, Chicago,
IL, USA
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Indexicality is just the principle of contextualization


of linguistic and other signs-in-use, seen as a component of the meaning of the occurring sign-forms.
Indexicality is revealed in the way that, by degrees,
linguistic and other signs point the users of these signs
to the specific enveloping conditions in which they
use them. Signs point to context in two ways: indexical signs link users to contextual conditions of which
users have knowledge, independent of the occurrence
of the particular indexical sign at issue; indexicals
also link users to contextual conditions that, for
those users, come into being only as a function of
the occurrence of the indexical sign at issue (see Context, Communicative). For its users, the occurrence of
an indexical sign is an event that, like a mathematical
function, maps a context configured in a certain way
into a context now configured in perhaps another
way. Consider an expression, the use of which counts
as an insult under particular, already mutually understood conditions. When it is directed as such to an
addressee, once emerged in the interpersonal space
between two people, its directed occurrence irreversibly transforms social relations so that much interpersonal work further signs-in-use might have to be
undertaken, and things are never again quite as they
were in the status quo ante.
The two contextualizing directions of indexicality
presupposing indexicality and creative or entailing
indexicality (Silverstein, 1976; 1993) are not, then,
simply converse equivalents. They correspond to the
two intuitions that sign users manifest, on the one
hand about the appropriateness of their messages
to the momentary givens of the context as they understand them, and on the other hand about the performative effectiveness of their messages in bringing
about intersubjective consequences in the contexts in
which they communicate. For semiotic pragmatists,
empirical study of indexicality investigates how
actual messages, used on specific occasions of
communication, relate to norms of appropriateness
and effectiveness implicitly shared by users of the
various sign modalities studied (see Pragmatics: Overview). Are there norms of who-can-communicatewhat-message-to-whom-about-whom-or-what-underwhat-conditions? Are there norms of whatkind-of-act-is-performed-or-event-brought-about-inthe-communication-of-certain-message-forms? How
people use signs in actual event contexts can be
interpreted only in relation to such norms; that is,

events of how signs occur in their contexts of use


can be studied as the medium through which social
relationships among actual communicators are established, maintained, and transformed relative to the
norms being invoked in actual practice.
Many writers, ancient and modern, have recognized
and remarked on essentially this property of signs; the
whole field of rhetoric in the Western tradition, we can
see retrospectively, has been focused on it (see Rhetoric,
Classical). It was Charles Sanders Peirce (18391914)
who first systematized the concept of indexicality within a more encompassing framework of the semiotic
(sign-based) foundations of all epistemology and ontology (see Peirce, Charles Sanders (18391914)). Of all
the grand and ever unfinished architectonic of his
philosophy, Peirces specific trichotomous distinction
in which indexicality figures has been particularly influential for the analysis of cultural systems such as
language. Peirce distinguished among iconic sign relationships (signs by resemblance or likeness to their
semiotic targets), indexical sign relationships (signs of
spatiotemporal or other contiguity, including causal
connection to another object, to which they point),
and symbolic signs (implicit sign regularities, depending on general classificatory conventions that any
instance of the sign invokes in use).
Many philosophers, logicians, and other students
of cognition have considered how natural languages
measure up against algorithmic systems invented for
formally modeling the (normative, if not actual) coherence of human inferencing (what is sometimes
termed symbolic logic) (see Inference: Abduction,
Induction, Deduction). All have therefore been obligated to treat the pervasive fact of indexicality in
natural languages, as language is the recognized
human instrument for referring and predicating
(Reichenbach, 1947; Bar-Hillel, 1954). Such accounts
have at least recognized referential deixis, the way
that objects of reference can be relationally located
in respect of the indexed! contextual conditions
under which an instance of a deictic form is used and
to which it therefore points (see Deixis and Anaphora: Pragmatic Approaches). That is, every human
language includes paradigms of grammatical forms
(such as French celui-ci this one [masc.] and celuila` that one [masc.]) that locate an object of reference
in relation to its position in the (broadly speaking)
spatial configuration of the triad sender (speaker)
receiver (addressee)referent in a communicational
situation. In short, the sense the presumed-upon
norm of form-meaning relationship for such a deictic is a rule for the appropriate use of each instance
of the form to pick out a referent that conformingly

Pragmatic Indexing 15

co-occurs in the communicative context. All such


systems of grammatical deixis impose upon instances
of communication a kind of radial topology as
a structuring principle, with various elaborations
of a basic two-valued distinction (here-and-there
kinds of systems), as in Latin three-valued demonstrative paradigms, and with various generalized
usage beyond the merely physical arrangement of
an inhabitable speech context (for example, using
deictics also to track the order of introduction of
referents in the grammaticized topological flow of
temporally unfolding discourse; cf. English former
vs. latter).
Roman Jakobson (18961982), Emile Benveniste
(19021976), and Jerzy Kuryowicz (18951978),
however, among linguists, saw the pervasive role
of indexicality in every natural language, far beyond
mere deictic reference. The notion that every structure of what Saussure termed langue, or Chomsky
termed competence, was formally pervaded and
functionally framed by Saussurean parole, or by
Chomskyan performance, was developed in
Jakobsons seminal samizdat of the annus mirabilis
1957, entitled Shifters, verbal categories, and the
Russian verb (Jakobson, 1971), in Benvenistes
series of papers of the same period, reprinted in his
Proble`mes de linguistique generale (1966, 1971), and
in Kuryowiczs generalizations from historical morphosyntactic studies of the Indo-European languages,
beginning with his theories of derivation (1936)
and culminating in his Inflectional categories of
Indo-European (1964; cf. 1960, 1972) (see Saussure,
Ferdinand (-Mongin) de (18571913); Chomsky,
Noam (b. 1928); Kuryowicz, Jerzy (18951978);
Jakobson, Roman (18961982)). At once, matters of
context and its configuration came into view in the
grammatical analysis of how people achieve even
the simplest of communications in the way of grammatically formed referring and predicating: relying
systematically on the minutest processing of details
of context, such as role relationships of speakers,
addressees, audiences, and referents, as manifested
in categories of person; on presumptions of prior
communicational events underlying warrants for
speaking, as is manifested in categories of evidentiality; on differentiation of interests of speaker and addressee in the events being narrated, as manifested in
the epistemic differentiation of two planes of tense
systems; and so forth. Peirces concept of indexicality
was, then, generalizable beyond deictic reference as
such to encompass the essentially context-dependent,
context-suffused character of all linguistic communication and, more importantly, of anything one might
term the structural norms for the referential and
predicational use of verbal signs.

In this light, it becomes clear that as modern linguistic anthropology developed by phases through an
ethnography of speaking (or of communication)
(Gumperz and Hymes, 1964, 1972; Hymes, 1974;
Gumperz, 1982), its concerns for the sociocultural
contextualization of language use were the same as
those of these European theorists of a linguistique de
la parole (see Linguistic Anthropology). Similarly, the
studies of social interaction following on the Chicago
School symbolic interactionism within the discipline
of sociology Goffmans (1967, 1969, 1974, 1981),
those of ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1967;
Cicourel, 1974), and conversation analysis (Sudnow,
1972; Levinson, 1983; Duranti and Goodwin, 1992)
are readings of the flow of interactional events
achieved in the course of interpersonal co-participation in linguistically mediated communication (see
Ethnomethodology; Conversation Analysis; Goffman, Erving (19221982); Interactional Sociolinguistics). Intellectually, if not disciplinarily, it remained
only to bring together all these interests to the study
of actual language forms through the concept of the
pervasive indexicality of the linguistic sign, and
to understand the indexicality of language and its
perilinguistic semiotic modes in terms congenial
to the social and cultural analysis of situations of
communication.
By so doing, contemporary linguistic anthropology
(see Duranti, 2001, 2004; Silverstein and Urban,
1996) has been centered on the analysis of indexicality in every aspect of semiotic codes in use, and
particularly of language: how does the flow of discourse, as it comes to cohesive textual form, indexically construe and construct relevant sociocultural
framings of its producers (speakers, addressees, audiences, even analysts) and its denoted characters? Such
framings are on the order of shared, or at least sharable, schematizations of identity (kinds of persons),
of discourse genre (kinds of social occasions and
events), of institutional space (kinds of allocated
realms of access), and so forth. In the course of
using language and such, communicative interlocutors locate themselves and others in such framings;
the very forms they use among a language communitys varied possibilities indexically project these
framings as the understood conceptual surround of
the current communication, making them relevant to
its course and outcome. The way that the personnel of
social interaction, as we might term them, come to be
projectively located or positioned is a central part
of the work of communication. Once they are so
located, what goes on in the way of moving participants to new relative social locations, or of adding
further, concurrent social locations to ones already
presupposed, constitutes the dynamic indexical work

16 Pragmatic Indexing

of conversation. It is in this sense that much of the


work of social identity is achieved and clarified in
conversation, making it seem that aspects of social
personae, like gender, class, and ethnicity, are performed. When we view the matter as one of social
indexicality, however, the real issue is not
the normative existence of schemata of social classification, so much as the indexical clarity in terms
of directness vs. indirectness of indexation, ambiguousness vs. discernibility, congruence vs. contradictoriness, etc. with which particular individuals
in particular kinds of interactional events come to be
consequentially positioned in one or more of these
frameworks. (For example, on gender as performed
in relation to other aspects of relational identities, see
Silverstein (1985), Ochs (1992), Kiesling (2001a,b),
Cameron and Kulick (2003), Eckert and McConnellGinet (2003), Bucholtz and Hall (2004), and
Hastings and Manning (2004)).
Indeed, to a great extent, interactional moves seemingly concerned with denotational content, such as
taking a contrary stand on something predicated by a
conversational partner, or agreeing with the interlocutor while transforming the denoting terms of what
seems to be agreed upon, are not really concerned
with denotational content, or are concerned with it
only residually. Rather, as conversational moves
doing interactional work, such discursive contributions dynamically index what is going on; they figurate in the medium of denotational content acts of
self/other repositioning within a relevant cultural
framework indexically rendered in play at such a
point in interaction. In this way, other-mindedness
in respect of explicitly denoted content comes to
count, implicitly and interactionally, as mutual
counter-alignment of communicative participants in
a social sense in a framework of identities and interests, whether momentary or with more perduring
consequences of symmetric or asymmetric exclusion.
All this social work, moreover, is generally accomplished only indexically, that is, entirely implicitly,
and can therefore go officially unnoticed it can
even be plausibly denied by participants, even if it
materializes to indexical interpretation under the
analytic lens of the student of interactional events.
See also: Chomsky, Noam (b. 1928); Context, Communicative; Conversation Analysis; Deixis and Anaphora: Pragmatic Approaches; Ethnomethodology; Goffman, Erving
(19221982); Inference: Abduction, Induction, Deduction;
Jakobson, Roman (18961982); Kuryl/owicz, Jerzy (1895
1978); Peirce, Charles Sanders (18391914); Pragmatics:
Overview; Rhetoric, Classical; Saussure, Ferdinand
(-Mongin) de (18571913); Socialization.

Bibliography
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Goffman E (1967). Interaction ritual. New York: Pantheon.
Goffman E (1969). Strategic interaction. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Goffman E (1974). Frame analysis: an essay on the organization of experience. New York: Harper and Row.
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Pragmatic Presupposition 17
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se mantique. Bulletin de la Socie te de Linguistique de
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Kuryowicz J (1964). The inflectional categories of IndoEuropean. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.
Kuryowicz J (1972). The role of deictic elements in linguistic evolution. Semiotica 5(2), 174183.
Levinson S C (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge
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Ochs E (1992). Indexing gender. In Duranti & Goodwin
(eds.) 335358.
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Meaning in anthropology. Albuquerque, NM: University


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Sudnow D (ed.) (1972). Studies in social interaction. New
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Pragmatic Presupposition
C Caffi, Genoa University, Genoa, Italy
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
Both concepts pragmatic and presupposition
can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand,
not being very remote from the intuitive, pretheoretical concept of presupposition as background assumption, the concept of presupposition covers a
wide range of heterogeneous phenomena (see Presupposition). Owing to the principle of communicative
economy as balanced by the principle of clarity
(Horn, 1984), in discourse much is left unsaid or
taken for granted.
In order to clarify the concept of presupposition,
some authors have compared speech with a Gestalt
picture in which it is possible to distinguish a ground
and a figure. Presuppositions are the ground; what is
actually said is the figure. As in a Gestalt picture,
ground and figure are simultaneous in speech; unlike
the two possible representations in the Gestalt picture, speech ground and figure have a different status,
for instance with respect to possible refutation. What
is said, i.e., the figure, is open to objection; what is
assumed, i.e., the ground, is shielded from challenge (Givo n, 1982: 101). What crucially restricts
the analogy is the fact that discourse is a dynamic
process, whereas a picture is not. At the same time
that an explicit communication is conveyed in the
ongoing discourse, an intertwined level of implicit
communication is unfolding: understanding a discourse requires an understanding of both. When

communicating, we are constantly asked to choose


what to put in the foreground and what in the background. Discourses and texts are multilevel constructs, and presuppositions represent (at least a part
of) the unsaid (see Pragmatics: Overview).
On the other hand, the label pragmatic can be
used in different ways. It may refer, first, to a number
of objects of study and, second, to a number of methods of analysis linked by the fact that they take into
account elements of the actual context (see Pragmatics:
Overview; Metapragmatics; Pragmatic Indexing;
Indexicality: Theory). What is called pragmatic may
in fact be an expanded semantic object (see Semantics
Pragmatics Boundary). Generally speaking, a requirement for a truly pragmatic treatment seems to
be that it is concerned more with real usages of language(s) than with highly abstract models dealing
with oversimplified, construed examples. Ultimately,
what I can imply or infer, given a presupposition,
depends on an active choice made in the face-to-face
confrontation with my interlocutor (Mey, 2001: 29).
The origin of the concept of pragmatic presupposition must be sought in the recognition by philosophers of language and logicians that there are
implicata of utterances that do not belong to the set
of truth conditions (see Truth Conditional Semantics
and Meaning). Their starting point is the awareness
that there are other relations between utterances
besides that of entailment.
The definitions of pragmatic presupposition proposed in the 1970s have brought about a pragmatic
rereading of a problem that was above all logical and
that had not found adequate explanation in the

Pragmatic Presupposition 17
Kuryowicz J (1936). Derivation lexicale et derivation
semantique. Bulletin de la Societe de Linguistique de
Paris 37, 7992.
Kuryowicz J (1960). Esquisses linguistiques. Wrocaw/
Krakow: Polska Akademia Nauk.
Kuryowicz J (1964). The inflectional categories of IndoEuropean. Heidelberg: Carl Winter.
Kuryowicz J (1972). The role of deictic elements in linguistic evolution. Semiotica 5(2), 174183.
Levinson S C (1983). Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Ochs E (1992). Indexing gender. In Duranti & Goodwin
(eds.) 335358.
Reichenbach H (1947). Elements of symbolic logic. New
York: Free Press.
Silverstein M (1976). Shifters, linguistic categories, and
cultural description. In Basso K & Selby H (eds.)

Meaning in anthropology. Albuquerque, NM: University


of New Mexico Press. 1155.
Silverstein M (1985). Language and the culture of gender:
at the intersection of structure, usage, and ideology. In
Mertz E & Parmentier R J (eds.) Semiotic mediation:
sociocultural and psychological perspectives. Orlando,
FL: Academic Press. 219259.
Silverstein M (1993). Metapragmatic discourse and metapragmatic function. In Lucy J A (ed.) Reflexive language:
reported speech and metapragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 3358.
Silverstein M & Urban G (eds.) (1996). Natural histories of
discourse. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sudnow D (ed.) (1972). Studies in social interaction. New
York: Free Press.

Pragmatic Presupposition
C Caffi, Genoa University, Genoa, Italy
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Introduction
Both concepts pragmatic and presupposition
can be interpreted in different ways. On the one hand,
not being very remote from the intuitive, pretheoretical concept of presupposition as background assumption, the concept of presupposition covers a
wide range of heterogeneous phenomena (see Presupposition). Owing to the principle of communicative
economy as balanced by the principle of clarity
(Horn, 1984), in discourse much is left unsaid or
taken for granted.
In order to clarify the concept of presupposition,
some authors have compared speech with a Gestalt
picture in which it is possible to distinguish a ground
and a figure. Presuppositions are the ground; what is
actually said is the figure. As in a Gestalt picture,
ground and figure are simultaneous in speech; unlike
the two possible representations in the Gestalt picture, speech ground and figure have a different status,
for instance with respect to possible refutation. What
is said, i.e., the figure, is open to objection; what is
assumed, i.e., the ground, is shielded from challenge (Givon, 1982: 101). What crucially restricts
the analogy is the fact that discourse is a dynamic
process, whereas a picture is not. At the same time
that an explicit communication is conveyed in the
ongoing discourse, an intertwined level of implicit
communication is unfolding: understanding a discourse requires an understanding of both. When

communicating, we are constantly asked to choose


what to put in the foreground and what in the background. Discourses and texts are multilevel constructs, and presuppositions represent (at least a part
of) the unsaid (see Pragmatics: Overview).
On the other hand, the label pragmatic can be
used in different ways. It may refer, first, to a number
of objects of study and, second, to a number of methods of analysis linked by the fact that they take into
account elements of the actual context (see Pragmatics:
Overview; Metapragmatics; Pragmatic Indexing;
Indexicality: Theory). What is called pragmatic may
in fact be an expanded semantic object (see Semantics
Pragmatics Boundary). Generally speaking, a requirement for a truly pragmatic treatment seems to
be that it is concerned more with real usages of language(s) than with highly abstract models dealing
with oversimplified, construed examples. Ultimately,
what I can imply or infer, given a presupposition,
depends on an active choice made in the face-to-face
confrontation with my interlocutor (Mey, 2001: 29).
The origin of the concept of pragmatic presupposition must be sought in the recognition by philosophers of language and logicians that there are
implicata of utterances that do not belong to the set
of truth conditions (see Truth Conditional Semantics
and Meaning). Their starting point is the awareness
that there are other relations between utterances
besides that of entailment.
The definitions of pragmatic presupposition proposed in the 1970s have brought about a pragmatic
rereading of a problem that was above all logical and
that had not found adequate explanation in the

18 Pragmatic Presupposition

available semantic theories. This rereading was basically methodological (see SemanticsPragmatics
Boundary; Pragmatics and Semantics).
From Stalnakers definition (1970) onward, a pragmatic presupposition was no longer considered a relation between utterances but rather was considered
one between a speaker and a proposition (see Propositions). This is a good starting point, but it is far from
satisfactory if the label pragmatic is meant to cover
more than semantic and idealized contextual features, i.e., if we adopt a radical pragmatic standpoint.
Let us provisionally define a pragmatic presupposition as a me nage a` trois between a speaker, the
framework of his/her utterance, and an addressee.
From a radical pragmatic standpoint, a substantivist
view of presuppositions i.e., what the presupposition of an utterance is is less promising than
a functional, dynamic, interactional, contractualnegotiating view; the question here is how presupposition works in a communicative exchange. The
pragmatic presupposition can be considered as an
agreement between speakers. In this vein, Ducrot
proposed a juridical definition whereby the basic
function of presuppositions is to establish a frame
for further discourse (1972: 94; my translation).
Presuppositions are based on a mutual, tacit agreement that has not been given before and that is constantly renewed (or, as the case may be, revoked)
during interaction. Presuppositions are grounded on
complicity.
Having been the focus of lively discussions by
linguists and philosophers of language during the
1970s, presuppositions seem now to have gone out
of fashion. At the time, the wars of presupposition
(Levinson, 2000: 397) were fought between partisans
of a semantic vs. a pragmatic view on the phenomenon. Another war is presently being fought with
regard to another though adjacent territory, that
of the intermediate categories covering the conceptual space between presupposition and implicature (see
Implicature). The fight involves the overall organization of the different layers of meaning (and their
interplay); it could be labeled the war of
(generalized) conversational implicature, if the latter
term were neutral, rather than being the banner of the
faction representing one side of the debate, namely
the post-Gricean theorists (eminently, though not exclusively, represented by Levinson [2000]). The other
side counts among its representatives, first of all,
the relevance theorists, as represented by Carston
(2002), who advance an alternative concept, called
explicature, that is intended to bridge the notions
of encoded meaning and inferred meaning (see
Relevance Theory; Implicature).

On the whole, the decline of the interest in presupposition as such can be understood, and partly justified, inasmuch as subtler distinctions between the
different phenomena have been suggested, and a descriptively adequate typology of implicata is in the
process of being built (see Sbisa`, 1999b). The decline
is less justified if the substitution is only terminological, that is, if the intuitive concept of presupposition is
replaced by a gamut of theory-dependent concepts
without offering any increase in explanatory power
with respect to authentic data. In the latter case, it is
not clear what advantages might result from the replacement of the umbrella term presupposition by
some other, more modish terminology. The point is,
once again, the meaning we assign to the word pragmatic and the object we make it refer to: either the
rarefied world of construed examples or the real
world, where people constantly presuppose certain
things in order to reach certain goals.
Once it is clear that a radical pragmatic approach to
the issue necessarily takes only the latter into consideration, the question is whether the term presupposition refers to a range of heterogeneous phenomena or,
on the contrary, to a particular type of implicatum, to
which other types can be added. But even before that,
we should ask whether, between the established notion of semantic presupposition and the Gricean notion of implicature (which, despite its popularity, still
is under scrutiny by both philosophers and linguists),
there is room for a concept like pragmatic presupposition. To answer this question, we need to say a few
words on how pragmatic presupposition is distinct
from the two types of adjacent implicata mentioned
earlier: semantic presupposition and implicature.

Relation with Semantic Presupposition


The concept of semantic presupposition is relatively
clear. Its parentage is accredited: Frege (see Frege,
Gottlob (18481925) (01250)), Russell (see Russell,
Bertrand (18721970)), Strawson (see Strawson,
Peter Frederick (b. 1919)). Its lineage seems to be
traceable back to Xenophanes, quoted in Aristotles
Rhetoric (see Rhetoric, Classical), via Port-Royal (see
Port-Royal Tradition of Grammar) and Stuart Mill
(see Mill, John Stuart (18061873)). There is substantial agreement as to its definition: the presupposition
of a sentence is what remains valid even if the sentence is denied; its truth is a necessary condition for a
declarative sentence to have a truth value or to be
used in order to make a statement. A respectable test
has been devised to identify it the negation test.
There is a list of the linguistic facts (Levinson, 1983:
181185) that trigger the phenomenon of presupposition: thirty-one have been listed, from factive verbs

Pragmatic Presupposition 19

(e.g., know, regret; see Factivity) to change-of-state


verbs (e.g., stop, arrive), to cleft sentences (see Clefting in Spoken Discourse).
The notions of semantic presupposition and conventional implicature (see Maxims and Flouting), as
identified by Grice (who exemplified the latter with
therefore), can be unified to a certain degree, as both
depend on a surface linguistic element that releases
the presupposition. The difference between semantic
presuppositions and conventional implicatures is that
the latter, unlike the former, are irrelevant with respect to truth conditions (see SemanticsPragmatics
Boundary). In contrast, unlike semantic presuppositions and some conventional implicatures, pragmatic
presuppositions are not directly linked to the lexicon,
to the syntax, or to prosodic facts (e.g., the contrastive accent in MARY has come; see Intonation) but
are linked to the utterance act (see Pragmatic Acts).
We should distinguish types of implicata that are
recorded by dictionaries and that either are part of the
semantic representation of a lexeme (see LexemeMorpheme-Based Morphology) or are conveyed by
given syntactic or prosodic structures, from implicata
that are independent of both dictionary and grammar: in particular, pragmatic presuppositions are triggered by the utterance and the speech act involved.
They are presuppositions neither of a lexeme nor of a
proposition nor of a sentence. They are presuppositions that a speaker activates through the utterance,
the speech act, and the conversational or textual
moves that a given speech act performs. Thus, pragmatic presuppositions concern not imperative
sentences but orders; not declarative sentences but
assertions; and so on. In other words, one ought to
stress once more the distinction between syntactic
and pragmatic functions: between them there is no
one-to-one correspondence (see Lyons, 1977). The
same linguistic structure, the same utterance, can
perform different functions, convey different speech
acts, and refer to different sets of presuppositions (see
Mood and Modality in Grammar; Pragmatics and
Semantics). The acknowledgment of a level of theorizing that goes beyond the sentence is the sine qua
non for the analysis of pragmatic presuppositions.
Pragmatic presuppositions are related to knowledge
that is not grammatical but encyclopedic, that is,
knowledge that concerns our being in the world (see
Metapragmatics). Or, rather, they consist not in
knowledge, in something that is already known, but
in something that is given as such by the speaker, in
something that is assumed as such and is therefore
considered irrefutable (Van der Auwera, 1979).
Once we have recognized the semantic nature
of lexical and grammatical (syntactic and prosodic)
presuppositions, we should stress the connection

between semantic and pragmatic presuppositions.


First, the connection is of a general nature and concerns the obvious (but by no means negligible) fact
that, when we are dealing not with abstractions but
with real utterances, the phenomenon of semantic
presuppositions becomes one of the available means
by which the speaker can change the communicative
situation (see Communicative Principle and Communication). If the link between, for instance, a certain
lexeme and the presupposition it triggers is semantic,
their analysis within an utterance and a context must
face the pragmatic problem of their use and effects.
Second, on closer examination, this connection is
bound up with the specific pragmatic functions performed by phenomena that can be labeled as semantic
presuppositions. For instance, it is important to recognize the effectiveness of semantic implicata (lexical
presuppositions, conventional implicatures, presuppositions linked to syntactic constructions such as
cleft sentences, etc.,) both in the construction of
texts and in the pragmatic strategies of manipulation
of beliefs, or, to use Hallidays categories, both in the
textual function and in the interpersonal one (see
Systemic Theory; Halliday, Michael A. K. (b.
1925)). On the one hand, the analysis of the different
types of anaphora and their functioning whenever their
antecedent is not what the preceding text stated but
what it presupposed, has both textual and pragmatic
relevance. On the other hand, precisely because it
is shielded from challenge, communication via presuppositions lends itself to manipulatory purposes (see
Sbisa`, 1999a): suffice it to compare the different persuasive effects of an assertion embedded in a factive
verb (see Factivity) vs. a simple assertion (e.g., People
know that solar energy is wishful thinking vs. Solar
energy is wishful thinking). Having defined the semantic nature of the different types of presuppositional
triggers, we should then recognize the role of pragmatics in the study of the production and interpretation
of these potentially highly manipulatory implicata. Obviously, it is more difficult to question something that
is communicated only implicitly rather than to attack
something that is communicated openly, if only because what is implicit must be recognized before it
can be attacked. This is attested by the highly polemical and aggressive value inherent in attacks on presuppositions; such moves always represent a serious threat
for face (see Face; Mitigation).

Relation with Conversational Implicature


The criteria put forward by Grice to distinguish conversational implicature (see Cooperative
Principle; Grice, Herbert Paul (19131988)) from
other implicata (i.e., calculability, nondetachability,